'Tiger' Sharks handle high tempo

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- This week you should be called the "Tiger Sharks" because you have really earned your stripes over the past several weeks with five major launches in less than 50 days! I could not be more proud of our team and what you have accomplished for our Nation.

The string of successes started with the Sept. 27 launch of a Delta II carrying a NASA probe to study asteroids. That was followed in succession by the Atlas V/Wideband Global Satcom, Delta II/Global Positioning System, Space Transportation System-120 missions and culminated with Saturday's launch of the final Defense Support Program Satellite on a Delta IV Heavy booster.

While all missions are crucial, in my view Saturday's flight was exhilarating to watch that mammoth vehicle soar into the clear night sky, and even more satisfying some six hours later to learn that the DSP spacecraft had successfully separated from the Delta IV and was safely in its prescribed orbit. Everything worked perfectly and now we have placed another satellite in orbit that, once operational, will be another source of critical combat effects for our warfighters.

These last few weeks have been among the most gratifying of all my years in the space business and Sharks, you and our mission partners, made it happen. You energize assured access to space for America. There is no finer team of space professionals anywhere in the world!

And while we should be proud of what we have accomplished, please keep working hard and keep the momentum going because we have three more major launches on the Eastern Range manifest for calendar year 2007: an Atlas V carrying a National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft; STS-122 on another mission to the International Space Station; and a Delta II with Global Positioning System satellite IIR-18.

We are busy and I wouldn't have it any other way. I know this spike in mission activities inspires you to work smarter and harder and makes you feel even more proud to serve. I greatly appreciate all you do. Go Sharks!