920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
12/12/2012 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Air
Force Reserve combat-search-and-rescue Airmen from the 920th Rescue
Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., supported the successful classified
launch of an United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the U.S.
military's X-37B orbital space plane, Dec. 11 at 1:03 p.m. from launch
Complex 41 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The Low Earth Orbit an X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle also known as OTV is
beginning its second flight following refurbishment. Between April and
December 2010 on the inaugural OTV launch, the OTV spent 224 days, 9
hours and 24 minutes in orbit.
A second OTV mission spent 468 days, 13 hours and 2 minutes on a voyage
from March 2011 to this past June that circled the earth more than 7,000
A combined team of military, government civilians and contractors
from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and Cape Canaveral AFS provided vital
support to this third OTV mission, including weather forecasts, launch
and range operations, security, safety and public affairs.
Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander, 45th Space Wing, who also served
as the Launch Decision Authority, said this was a very historic and
important launch for the Air Force and the entire team should be
commended for their first-rate, professional work that ensured another
"We are indeed fortunate to have a very talented "launch team" that works so well together," Cotton said.
"The teamwork across Air Force Space Command and with our 'Team Patrick /
Cape' mission partners made this launch a success and is another
example of how our Air Force delivers assured space launch, range and
combat capabilities for the nation," he added.
The X-37B provides a flexible "on-orbit laboratory" test environment to
prove new technology and components in space, before those technologies
are committed to operational satellite programs. Technologies on the
vehicle are expected to make access to space more responsive and
conducting experiments in space more affordable.
Upon command from the ground, the OTV autonomously re-enters the
atmosphere, descends and lands horizontally on a runway located on
Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
Rescue Wing Airmen who pilot the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter take to
flight several hours before all scheduled launches from Cape Canaveral
AFS to secure the Eastern Range. They patrol the stretch of the Atlantic
Ocean beneath the launch trajectory ensuring no mariners veer into
harm's way of potential rocket debris hazards.
Range clearing is one of the many tasks that the Airmen of the 920th RQW
are charged with. The premier combat-search-and-rescue wing Airmen are
trained to provide search and rescue services in humanitarian and combat