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Florida base provides mix of support for shuttle launch

12/11/2006 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (AFPN) -- The Air Force's 45th Space Wing out of Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. supported NASA's launch of Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center Dec. 9 on the shuttle's first night launch in four years.

Several units across the 45th SW played vital roles such as helping validate the pad after the shuttle rolled out, final ordnance installation, providing weather forecasts, organizing and training Department of Defense contingency response forces and media relations.

The wing also provided eastern range support with a vast network of radar, telemetry, meteorological, optical and communications instrumentation that helped facilitate a safe, picture-perfect launch.

"This night-time launch was a spectacular way to wrap up the 2006 space launch season. Congratulations to the entire NASA, DoD and government contractor launch team on a great start to this mission. We're proud of our contributions to assuring the safe and successful launch of Space Shuttle Discovery," said Col. Tom Bouthiller the 45th SW vice commander.

Another of the ways the 45th SW supported this mission was monitoring restricted airspace near Kennedy Space Center and helping keep it clear during the launch window.

Staff Sgt. Adam Greer, of the wing's 1st Range Operations Squadron, served as an aerospace control officer. He closely monitored a radar scope and had the capability to facilitate contacting pilots who strayed into the restricted airspace, if necessary, during the mission.

Sergeant Greer remembers watching space shuttle launches as a kid. He said it's surreal that he is part of the launch team now.

"The fact that I played a role in space exploration by helping launch a mission to the International Space Station is something that will stay with me forever," he said.

The STS-116 mission is the 33rd for Discovery and the 117th space shuttle flight. During the planned12-day mission, the crew will continue construction on the International Space Station, rewiring the orbiting laboratory and adding a segment to its integrated truss structure.

The next scheduled launch on the Air Force's Eastern Range is an Atlas V booster carrying the STP-1 payload next month.

(Courtesy of 45th Space Wing Public Affairs)

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