Photo Courtesy of: Space Launch Delta 45
May 11th, 2021
The 45th Space Wing has its origins starting in the 1940s during the Army’s early missile testing days on the Florida Space Coast. It when through several changes of it’s name before being designated the 45th Space Wing back in November of 1991 when it took over the designation of the Eastern Space and Missile Center as part of a larger Air Force heritage initiative. Also at this time the Eastern Test Range was renamed to Eastern Range in an emphasis to its operational nature. The first launch of the 45th SW (Space Wing) was STS-44 with the space shuttle Atlantis deploying a Defense Support Program satellite. Since then they have over seen a number of other firsts in our space history, such as the first commercial vehicle to dock with the ISS (International Space Station) back in 2012 with the launch of SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2. In December of 2015 it also supported the first rocket landing when a Falcon 9 rocket landed at then Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1. On December 20, 2019 the 45th Space Wing along with the rest of the Air Force Space Command transitioned into the United States Space Force.
So what does the 45th Space Delta Do? It is one of two space launch wings for the U.S. Space Force and they are responsible for executing military, intelligence, civil, and commercial space launches which use the Eastern Range. They are assigned to the Space Operations Command and headquartered out of Patrick Space Force Base in Florida. They also oversee Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and all space launch operations for the Eastern Range. They provide support for NASA, the Air Force’s Technical Applications Center, the 920th Rescue Wing, and the U.S. Navy’s Naval Ordnance Test Unit. The primary launch vehicle used by these operators include the Atlas V, Delta IV Heavy, Pegasus, Minotaur, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Boeing’s X-37 rockets, and the Navy’s Trident II D5 ballistic missile tests and evaluations.
The mission of the Space Delta 45 is “One Team… Delivering Assured Space Launch, Range and Combat Capabilities for the Nation.” It is currently commanded by Brig. Gen. Stephen G. Purdy Jr. and is organized into four groups to accomplish it’s mission. There is the Launch group, which conducts mission assurance on launch vehicles and spacecraft processing from flight hardware arrival through launch. Next we have the Operations Group which maintains and operates the Easter Range assists and is responsible for airfield operations, weather, and communication support. Then there is the Mission Support Group that provides support through various functions to the people and the mission. Lastly is the Medical Group, where medical, dental, environmental and public health services are run. Working with over thirty major partners at Patrick AFB, and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station they Space Delta 45 ensures mission excellence in every area in which they perform.
If you’d like to see & learn more about the Space Wing 45 and the years prior they have an excellent museum called the Sands Space History Center. Admission is free and they have displays showcasing each and every Launch Complex over the years at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and a great little gift shop full of neat items indicative to space history, and current launches. They are located at:
100 Space Port Way
Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
Tuesday thru Friday 09:00 – 14:00
Saturday 09:00 – 17:00
Sunday 12:00 – 16:00