45th SW factoids to wow your friends

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Ever have someone ask you, "So what do you do at Patrick?" 

I know I've been asked that question many times. Each time, I patiently try to explain our mission at the 45th Space Wing, how our people are directly supporting the Global War on Terror and how we are proud to serve the local community. Most of the time all I need to say is we launch rockets and satellites to support the nation's strategic objectives. But every now and then, I need a good factoid to put things in perspective.

 So with that in mind, here are a few facts and figures you can throw around to impress your friends and family next time they ask what it is you do here in Florida. 

- The wing is about 12,000 people strong including 2,150 military, 1,850 civilians, and 7,150 contractor personnel. 

- Our mission operations cover more than 15 million square miles with tracking stations as far south as Ascension Island (roughly 5,000 miles) and as far north as Argentia, Newfoundland (home to about 450 total people.) 

- We launch the Delta II, Delta IV, and Atlas V rockets - the Delta IV can carry 56,800 pounds to low earth orbit (that's equal to two 26,000 pound school buses.) 

- The Delta IV heavy rocket produces 650,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff-that's the same as 13 F-15 fighters in full afterburner. All that thrust is very environmentally friendly as the byproduct of the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants is vaporized water or steam. 

- At any time during the year, the wing has over 200 of its members deployed - most of them to locations in Southwest Asia including Iraq and Afghanistan. 

- There are over 35 active duty, Reserve and Guard units that make up our mission partners. 

- Our medical group provides 2,300 active duty and over 35,000 family members and retired personnel with medical and dental services. 

- Patrick AFB and Cape Canaveral AFS cover 19,000 acres of beaches, coastal sand dunes, wetlands and woodlands - home to 13 threatened or endangered species. 

- The wing's total operating budget is over $400 million and we provide over $1.2 billion dollars in impact to the local area in jobs created, construction, expenditures and payroll. 

- Patrick AFB started as the Banana River Naval Air Station which was commissioned on Oct. 1, 1940. The station supported seaplane patrol operations during World War II. It continued to operate as a Navy support base for two years after the war, but the installation was finally deactivated on Aug. 1 1947. 

The next time someone asks: "What does the 45th Space Wing do?" give them more than they bargained for.