45th Space Wing wins Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

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  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
The 45th Space Wing won the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptional meritorious service from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015.

According to Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander, the wing achieved unprecedented milestones during this period.

"We serve as the world's premier and busiest gateway to space, seamlessly executing space vehicle launches while overseeing more than $20 billion in critical national assets," the commander said. "The 45th SW executed 15 launch operations during the award period, delivering more than $6.5 billion in Department of Defense, NASA and commercial missions into orbit.  We supported our national security space mission with three Global Positioning Systems and two Navy Mobile User Objective System satellites, delivering critical navigational capabilities to warfighters that also increased GPS accuracy for more than three billion users worldwide."

Continuing their long history of space exploration together, the 45th SW supported key NASA operations on the Air Force's Eastern Range.

Det. 3, of the 45th Operations Group, known as U.S. Strategic Command's Human Space Flight Support, operated the DoD's only 24/7 astronaut rescue ops center and successfully completed a SpaceX Dragon capsule abort test, making NASA's commercial crew emergency egress a critical milestone in the next steps toward a return to human spaceflight from U.S. soil.

"We led the forefront of space operations, including the first flight of the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 spacecraft, delivery of three time-critical International Space Station resupply missions carrying more than 9,000 pounds of cargo and launching the nation's first Deep Space Climate Observatory," said Monteith.

The DSCOVR mission is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the U.S. Air Force, providing real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities for NOAA's space weather alerts and forecasts.

During the time period of the award, the wing's collaboration with commercial spaceflight customers continued to expand, adding a new record numbers of launches to the range schedule for the future. Together, they achieved significant American space history accomplishments together. 

"Our capabilities in space have always been, and will continue to be, leveraged through partnerships with industry," said Monteith, "Orchestrating the world's first flyback attempt of SpaceX's reusable launch system during an operational launch was a significant milestone which set the pace for future innovations."

The possibility of flyback was only in the planning stages during the time period of the AFOUA award but it was critical to the success that followed. In just nine minutes following the Dec. 21 launch of a Falcon 9 rocket that put ORBCOMM's OG2 communications satellite into orbit, the first-ever successful landing of the Falcon 9's first stage booster occurred at Landing Zone 1 (formerly Complex 13) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

Adding a landing zone to the range is just one example of how CCAFS is becoming the spaceport of the future.

During the time frame of the AFOUA award, 45th SW authored 68 real property documents to enable the world's busiest commercial launch site. For example, the wing also welcomed Blue Origin to the Eastern Range in an official ground breaking ceremony at Launch Complex 36 on Sept. 15, 2015.

In addition to the primary mission of assured access to space, the 45th SW also touted numerous innovations and waste reduction measures throughout the installation with a savings of $5.7 million which also contributed to the wing's successes for the year.

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award is awarded by the secretary of the Air Force to numbered units that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units. The services include: performance of exceptionally meritorious service; accomplishment of a specific outstanding achievement of national or international significance; combat operations against an armed enemy of the United States; or military operations involving conflict with or exposure to hostile actions by an opposing foreign force.

The 45th SW was awarded the AFOUA 14 previous times from 1981 to 2013.