Space Command Morrell Operations Center's Mission Control
Atlas V Launch Scores Major Milestones
Atlas V pre-launch operations Image Courtesy Patrick AFB (Click for larger image)
(l to r) 1st Lt. Georgene Hilb, Maj. Eric Amissah, Capt. Davina Fallaw, Capt. Bai Zhu and Stephen Anstey work on console at the Technical Support Facility during Atlas V pre-launch operations Dec. 10. (Courtesy photo)

by Ken Warren
45th SW Public Affairs

12/13/2007 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Shortly after the Atlas V rumbled off the pad late Monday afternoon, Maj. Dewitt Morgan "high-fived" Rick Day in the Morrell Operations Center's mission control room and said, "Great launch! Way to turn the Range."

The two members of the 1st Range Operations Squadron were in celebratory moods as the Atlas V carried a National Reconnaissance Office payload into space. The reason: In the wake of NASA's scrubbing of the STS-122 space shuttle mission early Sunday morning, 1 ROPS led the 45th Space Wing's charge to get the Eastern Range reconfigured in less than 36 hours to support the Atlas V launch.

The successful launch also buoyed the spirits of 1st Lt. Georgene Hilb, Deputy Atlas Lead for the 5th Space Launch Squadron. In that capacity she'd worked tirelessly supporting booster processing, monitoring facility status and serving as the 45th SW's point of contact for spacecraft integration. But for her, nothing matched the thrill of launch day. "I was excited seeing this payload get into orbit. This was the shortest flow for an Atlas V from booster on stand to initial launch capability -- 43 days, seven days shorter than the Astra mission that launched in April 2006."

On launch day, Lieutenant Hilb's responsibilities included tracking Atlas V countdown processing and anomalies for the government team and providing status to senior leadership.

"The beautiful liftoff was the best part of working this mission. It's a great feeling to know that our success here directly enhances our national security," she said.

SOURCE: Patrick AFB Press Release

Rocket Carries Secret Spacecraft
Atlas 5 launch. An Atlas V rocket and its cargo -- a payload owned by the National Reconnaissance Office -- lifted off from Launch Complex 41 at 5:05 p.m Monday December 10, 2007 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Photo by: Michael R. Brown Michael R. Brown, FLORIDA TODAY


CAPE CANAVERAL - A secret national security satellite is winging its way around the planet today after a roaring rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.

The Monday liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket came less than 36 hours after NASA scrubbed the planned launch of shuttle Atlantis, a turnaround that took a monumental effort.

"It was awesome," said ULA communications director Mike Rein. "And we appreciate everything the 45th Space Wing did to reconfigure the range after yesterday's shuttle scrub to make it happen."

The Air Force's 45th Space Wing, based at Patrick Air Force Base, operates the nation's primary east coast rocket range, providing radar tracking, range safety and weather forecasting services for all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

It typically takes two days to reset range systems between launches. The quick turnaround made it possible to pick up the Atlas 5 countdown Monday afternoon and send the rocket aloft at 5:05 p.m.

There was a two-minute delay to make certain the rocket wouldn't collide with the International Space Station as the outpost passed over the Cape.

Then the rocket rumbled off its oceanfront launch pad with a crackling roar, hurling a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload toward orbit.

Craig Covault, senior editor of the trade magazine Aviation Week and Space Technology, said the clandestine cargo was a spacecraft that relays images and other data to the ground from other NRO satellites.

Contact Halvorson at 639-0576 or

SOURCE: Florida Today Article

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