Science and Technology News

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rescue Wing Airmen support SpaceX rocket launch

920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

12/4/2013 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla.  -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched its first commercial Falcon 9 rocket into orbit at 5:41 p.m. Eastern Time Dec. 4, as Airmen and HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 920th Rescue Wing safeguarded the hazard zone.

This mission was the first commercial flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in over four years. The launch also marks the second of three certification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, according to SpaceX.

Hours before the launch, two rescue helicopters took off from Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach on its mission in support of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The 920th patrols the hazard or "safe" zone surrounding the launch pad to ensure boaters are a safe distance from potentially falling rocket debris.

Approximately 185 seconds into flight, Falcon 9's second stage's single Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 20 second burn that delivered the SES-8 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the SES-8 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit, according to SpaceX.

When Falcon 9 is certified, SpaceX will be eligible to compete for all National Security Space missions.

The 920th RQW performs combat search and rescue as its primary mission, which includes rescuing downed pilots. Additionally the 920th RQW is responsible for civil search and rescue, humanitarian relief and support of rocket launches. To date, the unit has saved more than 3,000 lives, both in peacetime and combat.

To date Air Force rescue forces from around the globe have saved more than 12,200 U.S., allied and host nation forces in conflicts worldwide since Sept. 11, 2001, and have rescued more than 5,000 people during catastrophic natural disasters and other responses.

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