Shaping the future American spaceport... today
By Lt. Col. John Wagner, 45th Launch Support Squadron commander
/ Published April 17, 2008
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- We are in the midst of significant change in our business. In our wing mission over the last few years, we've made the leap from the last Titan IV and Atlas II flights to the Delta IV and Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs). Booster workforces have transitioned to new providers, followed by consolidation.
In just a few months, we will fly the last Delta II vehicle carrying the last GPS IIR spacecraft. Once again, workforces that have helped build our success in space - in this case, loft the world-standard GPS constellation, will transition. Infrastructure that supported heritage boosters will be consolidated and upgraded, significantly changing the footprint that we've had for many years. For example, the Complex 40 Mobile Service Tower will be torn down this month to make room for new vehicles - bittersweet for many people who spent numerous hours there preparing Titan missions that left our shores to bolster national security or understand our solar system.
Fortunately, flyout of one program does not mean the end of new missions or discoveries. While we keep mementos and memories, we are moving forward to build a robust spaceport of the future. A new GPS team will process the next series of spacecraft, GPS IIF, for launch on the EELVs. Similarly, first-flights of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency spacecraft, Space Based Infrared System, Mobile User Objective System, and many more missions that have been in design and construction since the end of the Cold War will be launched in the upcoming months by new teams. We are also working to help other rockets, such as Falcon and Taurus II among others, achieve routine, frequent launches from the Cape.
Change is never stress free. However, through the many challenges of established teams flying their last vehicles, removing and changing established infrastructure, new teams becoming oriented with the Cape and Range processes, and first flights of new vehicles, a consistent theme is clearly evident that shapes our present and future - total dedication to mission success. I often remember people I worked with and learned from on missions that flew long ago when I was first assigned to the Cape... only to find that some of those same people are critical to new programs preparing for first launch.
As we look to the next few months or the next few years, enjoy the fact that you are shaping the future through the work you do on your mission today. Always ask yourself, "How could I do this better?" because as President Kennedy once said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."