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Reservists support launch of NASA test rocket

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -The test launch of Ares I-X Rocket was supported by the 920th Reserve Rescue Wing. The 920th provides safety and security surveillance of the Eastern Range during all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Master Sgt. Steve Richmond)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -The test launch of Ares I-X Rocket was supported by the 920th Reserve Rescue Wing. The 920th provides safety and security surveillance of the Eastern Range during all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Master Sgt. Steve Richmond)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -Ares I-X test rocket at Kennedy Space Center. (NASA photo)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -Ares I-X test rocket at Kennedy Space Center. (NASA photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE , Fla.- -- Air Force reservists from Patrick's 920th Rescue Wing supported the successful launch of NASA's Ares I-X test rocket from the Kennedy Space Center Oct. 29.

Wing crews cleared the Eastern Range, warning mariners to stay away from the 10-mile by 70-mile strip in the Atlantic Ocean that extends out from the launch pad in the anticipated direction of flight, or "launch azimuth."

In a worst-case scenario, the rocket could have showered debris or veered off course so the reservists scanned 1,000 square miles of ocean for boats and ships.

Also supporting the launch were wing aircraft maintainers and life support specialists.

The Ares I-X test is part of a larger flight test program. The program will include three tests of the Orion launch abort system between 2009 and 2012, a follow-on Ares I-Y test and an integrated test of the launch vehicle and spacecraft, called Orion 1, in 2015.

The Constellation Program is developing new systems and vehicles to support the next generation of space exploration. These vehicles will support the International Space Station after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010, as well as missions to the moon, Mars and beyond.

The 920th RQW is an Air Force Reserve combat search and rescue unit. The wing has about 1,500 Airmen who fly, maintain and support HC-130P/N extended-range fixed-wing aircraft and HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.

To date, wing reservists have supported about 400 launches. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)