'And the rockets’ red glare…'
By Lt. Col. John Wagner, 45th Launch Group deputy commander
/ Published May 14, 2009
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- We are truly fortunate to serve in the uniformed forces of our great nation, in an idyllic location, on missions that have and will continue to have massive impacts on our national defense. We live and work on the spacecraft flight line! Our space launch mission is the nexus between space acquisition and space operations, and if we don't have mission success, there are no military space operations.
When we see and feel our rockets' red glare and get confirmation our spacecraft are successfully on station performing their mission, it's an indescribable feeling of job satisfaction. The effort by hundreds of people on countless procedure reviews, technical meetings, milestone reviews and daily hardware and ground system processing, assembly, test, checkout and integration all pays off ...in ways that no other jobs do. Knowing the impact of those missions makes it even more worthwhile.
There are some that say "space is too expensive" or "too problematic" or space is "fraught with delays" - and this is simply not true. The spacecraft we put on orbit provide intelligence, warning, communications, position/navigation/timing, and other critical information each minute of every day for many years. We would need a fleet of aircraft to duplicate just a fraction of these capabilities at thousands of dollars per hour, just in fuel costs alone.
Because of spacepower, our military and nation is more informed, more precise, more lethal, and more secure than ever, with the smallest personnel end strength in our armed forces than any time since the post WWII drawdown in 1950. We do encounter delays, only because we have just one chance to get this right. We must ensure the very first flight of our spacecraft, fresh from the factory, is their last - and that these critical sentinels will operate flawlessly on-orbit for 10-15 years. This "perfection standard" is something that separates space from all other acquisition programs.
I've truly enjoyed my time here on the flight line, and learned much from the true professionals that work in, for, and with the 45th Space Wing - you truly make a positive difference for joint forces worldwide. As we prepare for Armed Forces Day tomorrow and Memorial Day in just over a week, remember President Kennedy's words from 1962: "Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard." Good luck and God Speed.