By Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, Commander, 45th Space Wing
/ Published February 10, 2011
PATRICK AFB, Fla. -- "45th Space Wing: One Team ... Delivering Assured Space Launch, Range, and Combat Capabilities for the Nation."
Each of us plays an important role in supporting our missions. For those who are directly involved with our launch or range operations, our mission statement is probably clear. For those of us who are not, let's take a moment and reflect on our role.
First, the words "One team..." were chosen to emphasize it takes all of us to deliver mission success. Whether we happen to put on a uniform or a suit or coveralls in the morning on our way to work (or in the evening for those mid-shifters!), each of us is part of making us the world's premier gateway to space.
Young or old, tall or short, purple or green, operator or maintainer or those in mission support, each of us brings a unique set of strengths and insight to our organizations. Our diversity is one of our true force multipliers, which is why we remain wholly committed to the well-being of our entire team.
Next, is a phrase that speaks to our primary missions "...Delivering Assured Space Launch, Range and Combat Capabilities..."
In the 45th Space Wing, we are asked to (1) launch satellites into space, (2) operate and maintain the Eastern Range, and (3) ensure combat capability is employed appropriately.
From seven different launch pads at Cape Canaveral AFS, we support the launch of national security missions on rockets with names like Atlas V, Delta IV, Delta II, Falcon-9 and others. The satellites support both the battlefield and the homefront.
For example, all thirty-plus GPS satellites currently on-orbit were launched from the Cape and provide a "free" utility to users around the world. It literally took a million things to be done right for this to happen, from the design of the system, to the manufacturing and testing of components, to the processing of the launch vehicles and payloads, to successfully launching dozens of GPS spacecraft, and finally the operation of the constellation.
The wing plays a critical role in every phase and that happens because one team works together.
Every serviceman and woman deployed around the world relies on GPS for a host of applications built on timing signals and navigation capabilities.
On the homefront, GPS is pervasive in everyone's life and allows us to drive with better directions, use our ATM and credit cards (remember those timing signals, they're used in the majority of financial transactions), use our cell phone, and on and on.
In addition to GPS, we could tell similar stories across a multitude of missions from communications, weather, intelligence, research & development, space exploration, as well as the testing of weapon systems. Each is reliant on some facet of the wing's unique space launch capabilities.
We're able to conduct these launch operations in a safe, successful manner because of the Eastern Range (or the "Range"). Many times, the Range is well out of the public eye. It is an instrumented area that spans much of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean, which is about four times, yes four times, the size of the Continental United States.
Using radar, optics and telemetry sites across the Range we are able to track the rocket's flight path to ensure public safety during the inherently dangerous activities associated with launch operations. Whether it's a launch of the Space Shuttle or an expendable rocket, the citizens on the Space Coast can definitely rest better knowing they are not in harm's way because of the Range.
Finally, we provide Combat Capabilities around the globe. It may be in the form of a satellite on-orbit supporting combat operations or one of our "Team Patrick" members gearing up to deploy downrange in support of ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Either way, the wing is instrumental to ensuring their readiness.
For our deployers, the skills span an array of specialties to include security forces, explosive ordnance disposal, firefighters, civil engineers, medics, pilots, and a host of others. On any given day, there are 200-250 men and women deployed from the Space Coast and it is our duty to ensure they're trained, equipped and ready to perform their assigned missions.
As always, we take pride in supporting the deployed member's families to ensure their welfare and safety.
Finally, there is a phrase in our mission statement that reminds us why we do what we do, "...for the Nation." Our mission is larger than the Air Force or even the Department of Defense. We have the privilege to provide these one-of-a-kind space launch, range and combat capabilities in support of our national needs.
They may be for national security purposes, a civil mission or commercial objectives, but rest assured the impact is felt globally.
From our relatively small corner of the universe known as the "Space Coast," we truly have a global impact. And that's what makes us so proud to be Sharks. We don't shy away from challenges. Instead, we embrace them. It is this attitude that has made us such a successful team in the past. In the present. And will in the future. Thanks for all you do!