Dormant since the NASA Shuttle Program, Hangar AF Wharf reactivates with retrieval of CRS-26 capsule

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dakota Raub
  • Space Launch Delta 45 Public Affairs

The Hangar AF Wharf at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Fla., dating back to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Shuttle Program, was used as a government resource to recover and repurpose exhausted rocket boosters. In 2011, when the program retired, the compound sat without a direct purpose to spaceport operations.

This dormant space has recently become an asset to Space Launch Delta 45 thanks to the newly established Spaceport Integration Office (SIO). The SIO’s mission is to assure the most effective integration, control, and utilization of facilities and resources in support of SLD 45’s mission: to deliver assured access to space for the warfighter and the Nation.

After over a decade of dormancy, the Hangar AF Wharf at CCSFS was reactivated with the retrieval of the Commercial Resupply Capsule (CRS) from the International Space Station, on Jan. 14, 2023.

“U.S. Space Force Maj. Andrew Compton, Spaceport Integration Office commander, was exploring ways to utilize the Hangar AF Wharf for small scale mission related opportunities when one presented itself in the form of the CRS Capsule offload,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Daniel Carino, Spaceport Integration Office senior enlisted leader.

The SIO led collaborative efforts with various CCSFS organizations to ensure a safe, secure, and isolated environment during the capsule retrieval, which resulted in the successful offload of the capsule and official reinstatement of the Hangar AF Wharf.

Typically, the capsule would be retrieved and offloaded in Port Canaveral and then transported over to Cape Canaveral SFS by a truck as an oversized load.

“The Hangar AF Wharf allows rapid maritime and land based integrational opportunities,” said Compton. “This capability reduces time-consuming material transports of oversized loads by vehicles from Port Canaveral, while offering a more secluded environment for secure operations in comparison to commercial options.”

The Hangar AF Wharf serves as the United States Space Force’s only organically owned Wharf that can be dedicated to Spaceport operations.

“Under ownership of the SIO, and in collaboration with Spaceport Partners, this unique resource is available to increase maritime operational capabilities by offering secure mission space for the full spectrum of Spaceport requirements,” said Carino.

“SIO is excited to offer the Hangar AF Wharf to all mission partners,” said Compton. “SIO strives to eliminate Spaceport capability shortfalls and advance solutions to support the Spaceport of the future and the needs of America’s warfighter.”