PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
“It has been an incredible and busy seven days for you all at the 45th Space Wing,” said Secretary of the Air Force the Honorable Deborah Lee James during an all call held Sept. 9, 2016, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
That statement was made in reference to the wing’s ability to transition from an emergency response effort after a static fire anomaly last Thursday at Space Launch Complex 40 to directly supporting NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which launched from Space Launch Complex 41 seven days later.
“You transitioned from incident management to ensuring that range operations were fully operational for last night’s launch and I am really impressed ... you did it all flawlessly,” she said.
This was her second visit to the 45th Space Wing in less than two years and although this two-day trip had been planned for several months, the timing gave James an opportunity to witness her first launch, get an in-depth look at several installation facilities at Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. James also got a firsthand look at serval launch complexes at both CCAFS and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Day one was centered on launch viewing of the OSIRIS-REx mission from United Launch Alliance’s Atlas Spacecraft Operations Center with key members of wing, NASA and ULA leadership. Following the successful launch, James concluded her day by meeting with members of the Wing’s launch team at CCAFS’ Morell Operations Center.
Day two began at Patrick AFB with a visit to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, where she delivered the opening remarks at the annual Women in Science and Engineering Symposium. The purpose of symposium is to encourage diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by providing inspirational speakers and engaging discussions for both women and men in and outside the federal government.
At the next stop, James led an all call held at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute. DEOMI’s mission is to develop and deliver world-class human relations education, training, research and innovative solutions to enhance total force readiness. There, she spent an hour with Airmen from both the active and reserve components assigned to both PAFB and CCAFS.
James discussed her three priorities; taking care of people, balancing readiness and modernization and making every dollar count and then went on to address space-based issues. In addition to being the Secretary of the Air Force, she also serves as the Principle Defense Space Advisor within the Department of Defense.
“I focus more broadly across the space enterprise and ensure that we are thinking through everything from strategy to budgets, to acquisition programs and being an advocate to the top leaders,” she said.
From there, she went on to describe how her time is divided since taking charge back in 2013.
“I divide my time between two ‘buckets’ of responsibilities. Half of the time I spend in Washington, D.C., making policy and budget discussions and the other half is spent getting out and being with our Airmen and the wings, which is very valuable to me and the best part of my job,” she said.
She took the opportunity to do just that when she met Airmen from the Airman Leadership School, Honor Guard, Satellite Pharmacy, and Security Forces at PAFB. She also visited the recently awarded, “Best in Air Force” Child Development Center and took time to have lunch with 45th Space Wing group, squadron commanders along with their spouses.
From there, she went back to CCAFS to assess the condition of Space Launch Complex 40. There, she met 12 members of the wing’s incident response team and took time to thank them for managing the response to last week’s launch pad anomaly, just before heading back to Washington, D.C.
It was a packed schedule for two days, with affirmation of just how busy the 45th Space Wing can get managing the Eastern Range, which had more launches in the past two years than it has had in the past 25 years.
“Your hard work and effort is certainly what gives the United States of America assured access to space, which is very important; both from a military perspective as well as from a societal perspective,” she said. “So much of everything that we do depends, in some way, on space.
“Your role is critical to our country’s defense and what you do here is extremely vital. So, I say to all of you; thank you so much for what you do.”