Rescue Reservists clear range for rocket launch
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 12, 2016
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Wing reservists provided range-clearance and contingency support for the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Feb. 5 at 8:38 a.m.
Onboard the Atlas was the final in a block of 12 GPS IIF satellites. The Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites provides improved accuracy through advanced atomic clocks, a longer design life than previous GPS satellites, and a new operational third civil signal (L5) that benefits commercial aviation and safety-of-life applications.
GPS is the United States Department of Defense's largest satellite constellation with 31-operational satellites on orbit.
Hours before launch, two wing HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters took off from Patrick AFB to patrol the Eastern Range, the 70-mile long by 10-mile wide swath of ocean extending east from the Cape that must be cleared of all air and marine traffic prior to every launch to ensure boaters are a safe distance from possible debris falling from the rocket.
The 920th performs combat search and rescue as its primary mission, which includes rescuing servicemembers trapped and or wounded behind enemy lines.
Additionally, the wing is responsible for civil search and rescue, humanitarian relief and support of rocket launches. To date, the unit has saved more than 4,000 lives, both in peacetime and combat.
**Information from an Air Force Space Command news release was used in this story**