Press Release

Patrick sees rockets’ red glare three times in five days

By SpaceRef Editor
August 17, 2001
Filed under ,

By Ken Warren, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) — The people who operate the Air Force’s
Eastern Range can take a well-deserved break after supporting a frenzy of
space launches that paralleled the hectic pace of the pioneer days of
America’s space program. From Aug. 6 to 10, the range supported three planned
ground-to-space launches in five days for the first time since the early 1960s.

But a full-fledged vacation is not on the horizon for the men and women of the
range. They will be working on range modernization efforts.

The range supported the successful launches of an Air Force Titan IV-B rocket
Aug. 6, a Boeing Delta II rocket Aug. 8, and the Space Shuttle Discovery on
Aug. 10.

The last time a similar event took place was when three rockets left Earth for
space Dec. 8 through 11 in 1964, according to 45th Space Wing records.

Fitting this many launches into the range schedule in such a short period was
a large, but manageable, challenge for the 45th Space Wing, which operates
the Eastern Range, officials said. The primary challenge involved
reconfiguring the range to support each mission. Each launch vehicle has its
own unique requirements.

Reconfiguring the 15-million-square-mile range, with sites as far north as
Newfoundland and south to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, is an
intensive process. It involves adjusting and checking out the vast network
of radars, telemetry, command destruct, communications, meteorology systems
and more needed to accommodate the different launch vehicles.

With the busy week behind it, officials said the range will not support
launch operations until Sept. 21; however, range resources will still be
used. New switches for systems are being installed and tested in conjunction
with an ongoing modernization effort called Range Standardization and
Automation.

People at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles —
with a detachment here — are responsible for providing systems and services
to meet the 45th Space Wing’s spacelift range requirements. Center personnel
are charged with doing their mission on time and in the most cost-effective
manner possible to support the wing’s role to provide the United States with
continued safe and competitive access to space.

“A large number of resources have been committed to support crucial upgrades
and testing of the range safety systems,” said Lt. Col. Andre Lovett, 45th
Range Squadron commander. “Even though we won’t be launching rockets, the
range won’t really be shut down.” (Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News
Service)

IMAGE CAPTION: [http://www.af.mil/photos/images/1126a.jpg (474KB)]
An Air Force Titan IV-B rocket takes off from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.,
on Aug. 6. Patrick’s Eastern Range supported three different ground to space
launches in five days for the first time since 1964. (Courtesy photo)

SpaceRef staff editor.