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Shuttle launch; not a bad way to start

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- While millions of people around the world watched the spectacular night launch of the Shuttle last Friday night, I had a birds-eye view of many of the behind-the-scenes tasks that were flawlessly carried out at the Morrell Operations Center by accomplished experts of the 45th Space Wing.

The more I get out and about both here and at the Cape - and I am just finishing up my fourth week of command this week - the more and more impressed I am with the quality of people we have working here who make things like this magnificent launch happen on time and on target. Time and time again. And safely.

I was able to see first-hand how the 45th Space Wing plays such a critical role - before, during and after a launch - in helping NASA safely launch a space shuttle. This partnership is the cornerstone of what makes this the World's Premier Gateway to Space.

Our wing Safety Office works hand-in-hand with NASA safety to analyze any and all probabilities involved with protecting the general public and workers on the Cape and at Kennedy Space Center.

Our Mission Flight Control Officers monitor the shuttle's flight path and serve as the last line of defense between an errant vehicle going off course and impacting any populated areas, should that ever happen.

Our Weather Squadron provides dedicated launch weather officers who work directly with the NASA mission management team all the way from rollout to launch.

Our range instrumentation workers - radars, telemetry, communications and more provide real-time data to NASA during initial critical phases of both the launch and landing.

Detachment 3, 45th Operations Group, coordinates critical DOD assets that stand-by to respond to launch or landing mishaps (medical, search & rescue, security, ordnance teams, etc.) and our Public Affairs Office helps coordinate Air Force participation in NASA media events and photo opportunities and mans the press desk at KSC during launches.

Our vision is to deliver space effects that protect and defend our nation through global vigilance, reach and power. Our mission is to assure access to the high frontier and to support global operations.

Nice to know we can back those up. Actions speak louder than words.

Yep, not a bad way to start at all. And I owe it all to you. And to the great NASA professionals. Thanks again. Go Sharks!