The U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing provided Eastern Range support for NASA’s successful launch of their Exploration Flight Test-1 mission as a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket roared into space with the Orion spacecraft atop it from Launch Complex 37 at 7:05 a.m. Dec. 5, 2014.
The largest of the Delta IV family, the heavy version features three Common Booster Cores mounted together to form a triple-body rocket.
Airmen, Air Force civilians and contractors from throughout the 45th Space Wing provided vital support, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, infrastructure, medical and public affairs. The wing also provided its vast network of radar and communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the Eastern Range.
According to NASA, the Orion spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is designed to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
The Orion Flight Test will evaluate launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield.
In the future, Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.
More powerful than any rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars. Exploration Mission-1 will be the first mission to integrate Orion and the Space Launch System.
“What a thrill and tremendous opportunity for all members of Team Patrick-Cape to play a very active — and vitally important role — in this historic mission,” said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, 45th Space Wing commander.
“The 45th Space Wing is proud to participate with NASA and our mission partners on a successful mission from our storied Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,” she said. “Here at the 45th Space Wing, we assure access to space, and this mission is a testament to all the hard work and teamwork that culminated in a safe, successful launch. Congratulations to all on a job well done.”
This Delta IV Heavy mission will take the Orion spacecraft to the highest orbit for a spacecraft designed for humans since the Apollo Program, then deliver it to a re-entry location for splashdown and recovery off the California Coast, where members of Detachment 3, Human Space Flight Support Directorate, located at Patrick Air Force Base, will help with the recovery of the Orion capsule.
Among the missions, Detachment 3 is responsible for (now and in the future) are astronaut rescue and recovery, landing site support, payload security, medical, airlift/sealift, and other support services as required.
Source:: Air Force Space Command