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Rescue wing clears path for launch, resupply mission

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off Dec. 6 at 4:44 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., en route to the International Space Station. The rocket was carrying the Cygnus resupply spacecraft, which is due to deliver roughly 7,700 pounds of supplies to the ISS Dec. 9.  Reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing provide range clearance and safety support for all launches from CCAFS. (Courtesy photo/ULA)

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasts off Dec. 6 at 4:44 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., en route to the International Space Station. The rocket was carrying the Cygnus resupply spacecraft, which is due to deliver roughly 7,700 pounds of supplies to the ISS Dec. 9. Reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing provide range clearance and safety support for all launches from CCAFS. (Courtesy photo/ULA)

The Cygnus resupply spacecraft rising above the horizon shortly after being launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Dec. 6 at 4:44 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The photo was taken by NASA Commander Scott Kelly from the International Space Station. The Cygnus craft is due to arrive at the ISS Dec. 9 with nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies. Reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing provide range clearance and safety support for all launches from CCAFS. (NASA courtesy photo/Scott Kelly)

The Cygnus resupply spacecraft rising above the horizon shortly after being launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Dec. 6 at 4:44 p.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The photo was taken by NASA Commander Scott Kelly from the International Space Station. The Cygnus craft is due to arrive at the ISS Dec. 9 with nearly 8,000 pounds of supplies. Reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing provide range clearance and safety support for all launches from CCAFS. (NASA courtesy photo/Scott Kelly)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Wing reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing here provided range clearance and safety support for a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module lifted off successfully from Launch Complex 41 at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:44 p.m. Sunday.

The spacecraft, carrying roughly 7,700 pounds of supplies, is due to arrive at the ISS Dec. 9.

Hours before each launch, two 920th aircrews aboard HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters patrol the Eastern Range for air and marine traffic. The Eastern Range is a 70-mile long by 10-mile wide swath of Atlantic Ocean extending east from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The area must be cleared prior to every launch because it is the area most susceptible to falling rocket debris in the event of a mishap.

The rescue wing's primary mission is combat search and rescue (CSAR), which includes rescuing servicemembers trapped and/or wounded behind enemy lines. Additionally, the wing performs civil search and rescue and humanitarian relief.

Since being activated in 1956, the 920th Rescue Wing has saved roughly 4,000 lives, including more than 850 combat rescues. It is the only CSAR unit in the Air Force Reserve.

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