For the first time in American history, a  rocket has launched under the command of the brand new Space Force.

The Falcon 9 from Space X launched on a cool and clear night from Launch Pad 40, marking the first time for a liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station since it has been moved to the Space Force. It’s a designation the Space Wing has been excited about for a long time.

“I’m excited for the 45th Space Wing to be a part of the U.S. Space Force,” said Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, the commander of the 45th Space Wing. “Our wing will continue to do what we’ve excelled at for nearly 70 years: we’ll continue our mission of providing assured access to space for warfighters and our nation.”

The change became official on December 20 and the 45th Space Wing knows the new year will be crucial.

“2020 is shaping up to be another historic year for the 45th Space Wing and Eastern Range,” said Schiess. “In addition to the Space Force, there is the scheduled return of human space flight from American soil, the opening of our STEM outreach program STARBASE, and the projection of 48 launches this calendar year. It’s a really exciting time to be on the Space Coast.”

All of this as Brevard County and NASA continue to rebuild after the end of the space shuttle era. The lengthy process has been trying at times but the calendar looks quite busy for the Space Force in the year ahead. Schiess said he is prepared for the challenge.

“Space activity is very important to our way of life and people count on us to make a difference,” said Schiess. “As we did for the Air Force, we will be here standing proudly as the ‘World’s Premier Gateway to Space’ in the United States Space Force.”

The Falcon 9 rocket from Space X carries a series of satellites that will eventually form a worldwide network for the Internet. To make this dream a reality, it will take hundreds of satellites. Space X is carrying 60 of them on each mission. The next mission with 60 more of those satellites could launch as early as the weekend but Space X has not set a firm date for the next launch, insisting, for now, the next launch will be in “mid-January.”

As for human spaceflight, it could be longer than what has been targeted for this year. Both Space X and Boeing’s United Launch Alliance (ULA) have seen problems with their return to flight programs. In December, ULA was able to successfully launch its Starliner test flight but a malfunction in the navigational system caused a timing error that did not allow the spacecraft to reach the International Space Station as planned. Boeing contends if live astronauts had been on board, they would have been able to manually correct the error and hope to make another launch by the end of the year. The program is already three years behind schedule.


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