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Sharks keep up the pace

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing is abuzz with preparations of launch vehicles and space craft for an anticipated busy fall launch schedule. 

Among these missions are the launch of an Atlas V carrying the first of a new generation of military communications satellite, two Delta II rockets, one carrying a NASA probe and the other a navigation satellite, and the last DSP satellite atop the first operationa Delta IV heavy booster. 

The 45th Launch Support Squadron continued the processing of the Wideband Glo-bal Satellite, while the 1st Space Launch Squadron be-gan the erection of a Delta II booster.

 Monday saw the first stage of the Delta II booster erected at pad 17A at the Cape. Although seemingly simple, it took nearly 10 hours to bring the booster out on a cradle transport and hoist it into position, said Tech. Sgt. Douglas June, Space Launch Com-plex 17 facility manager. 

The first stage provides 200,000 pounds of thrust upon ignition. In addition, over the next three days, nine solid rocket motors (SRMs) were added, said Capt. Dave Gallagher, launch crew commander for the 1st SLS. These motors give an extra boost of thrust, with six igniting on the ground, and the final three once the booster is airborne. 

After the SRMs are added, the next step is to add the second stage of the booster, which will help carry the third stage and satellite toward its intended orbit. The Delta II is planned to launch a GPS satellite in mid-October. Final preparations will begin in early October when the spacecraft is brought to the pad and placed on top of the booster. 

While the 1st SLS is readying a booster to launch the GPS satellite, the 45th LCSS is readying the first WGS satellite to be launched. The communications satellite is currently housed in the Astrotech facility in Titusville. The facility keeps the satellite at a temperature of 68 degrees and 40 percent humidity. All personnel must wear protective garments to keep contaminants from harming the satellite, said Master Sgt. Thomas Shank, 45th LCSS spacecraft flight chief. 

"We all enjoy our jobs, it's truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with programs/satellites such as WGS that has such an impact on the warfighter," said Sergeant Shank. 

The satellite now awaits the fuel that will keep it in it's prescribed orbit during its 14-year mission. 

"WGS is a critical vehicle for our nation that will significantly enhance joint force capabilities over its 14-year-mission life," said Lt. Col. John Wagner, 45th LCSS commander. "The 45th LCSS conducts mission assurance and integration for this and other spacecraft to ensure they arrive fully functional on-orbit and are able to meet all of their mission goals."