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Launches don't 'just happen'

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Just when I didn't think I could be more proud to be your commander, you do something even more impressive to make me even prouder. Seven days ago, we helped support NASA's Kepler launch, a three and one-half year mission designed to scan a portion of the Milky Way for rocky planets that are similar to Earth's size.

Then, prior to the launch being scrubbed Wednesday afternoon due to a discovered fuel leak, we were slated to support NASA's night launch of the Space Shuttle (STS-119), where crewmembers will work to install a huge girder that will finish the outpost's 11-piece backbone.

And Saturday evening, scheduled to lift-off at 9:25 p.m., we will launch the second Wideband Global SATCOM satellite aboard an Atlas V rocket, which will provide high-capacity communications to our nation's military forces, especially those war fighters in hostile fronts.

Three scheduled launches in less than two weeks. In a word..."phenomenal."
And if that's not "busy" enough for you, we will also be launching another global positioning satellite on a Delta II March 24.

For those of you who have never had the opportunity or pleasure to get the up-close-and-personal look at the behind-the-scenes work our folks do time and time again, I wish I had the ability to put into words - the right words - to make you un-derstand how hard they work, how safety conscious they are, and how very, very talented they really are.
But those words are hard to come by. Trust me; these launches don't "just happen."

And when I say things like that, I am often reminded of the words of former NASA astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space on the shuttle Challenger (STS-7) back in 1983.

"When you're getting ready to launch into space, you're sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen," said Dr. Ride, who accumulated more than 343 hours of space flight.
She speaks from experience and she is right on the money.

I wish you could be witness to the incredible number of hours worked, the years of experience, the highs, the lows, and in the end, the incredible coming together of the greatest space launch team the world has ever known.

But then again, I may be a bit biased.

And very, very proud.

Thanks again for all you do.