Robert Goddard would have been proud

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr.
  • 45th SW commander
Eighty-three years ago, space pioneer Robert Goddard successfully launched the first liquid-fueled rocket. The culmination of five years of work, it only flew 41 feet during its brief 2.5 second flight but it proved the concept of liquid-fueled rockets.

One generation later, the 45th Space Wing, in partnership with allies at the Space and Missile Systems Center and NASA, completed four space launches and a shuttle landing - all 100 percent successful - in 29 days. Four launches in less than a month clearly isn't a record. It is however, the most in some time and a significantly increased operations tempo compared to the seven completed in all of 2008. Like Robert Goddard, there is a lot riding on our success, or to put it another way: no spacelift, no space power. In our business, you may get a second count, but you can't have a second chance.

You can rightfully take pride in your success because your success enables so many others to succeed. In the case of these four, the Delta II/Kepler launch helped promote space exploration at the outer limits of our imagination by seeking earth-like planets that may contain life. The Space Shuttle launch will improve the ability for astronauts to conduct scientific experiments on the International Space Station. The GPS IIR-20 will enhance the well known position, navigation and timing (PNT) constellation that has guided 68 percent of the bombs dropped during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Last Friday's Atlas V/Wideband Global Satellite will provide more capability than the entire Defense Communication Systems fleet.

Every organization in the wing played an important role in this work. The Launch Group oversaw satellite and booster payload processing--starting months ago when the systems arrived at the Cape and continuing through the countdown. The Operations Group conducted the range operations portion of the mission, providing the area clearance, weather, tracking, communications and command capabilities that we need to ensure safety and mission success. The Medical Group ensured the operators were medically qualified for mission-ready duties prior to getting on console for the launches and range operations. The Mission Support Group handled our security. They made sure the operational centers were secure, emplaced roadblocks, cleared hazardous areas and prepared for contingencies in case of a launch failure.

Robert Goddard once said, "It has often proved true that the dream of yesterday is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow." From PNT and communications to space experimentation and exploration, your work is helping to enhance today's joint fight and advance our understanding of the earth and the galaxy. General Kehler said, "Excellent work. This is a tremendous team. Well done!" I agree. Thank you.