CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. --
The 45th Space Wing supported SpaceX’s successful launch of a Falcon 9 Dragon spacecraft headed to the International Space Station from Space Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center February 19 at 9:39 a.m. ET.
The U.S. Air Force has been breaking barriers since 1947 and with the successful demonstration of a new Autonomous Flight Safety System on this launch, yet another barrier has been broken. This mission marked the historic first-ever launch utilizing AFSS on either of Air Force Space Command’s Eastern or Western Ranges. AFSS takes ground-based mission flight control--personnel and equipment--out of the control center and replaces it with on-board Positioning, Navigation and Timing sources and decision logic. The benefits of AFSS include increased public safety, reduced reliance on range infrastructure, reduced range spacelift cost, increased schedule predictability and availability, operational flexibility, and launch site flexibility.
An AFSS on-board flight computer uses pre-established, programmed mission rules to determine if the launch vehicle poses an unacceptable hazard to people or property and initiates required actions to mitigate risk and terminate flight, if necessary.
“AFSS is an essential part of the Air Force Space Command’s vision for the future of Assured Access to Space as the system increases range safety with its over-the-horizon capability and its ability to support multiple objects in simultaneous flight, such as a first-stage booster return,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander. “I am proud of the integrated team who worked tirelessly to make this historic mission a success. This operation once again clearly demonstrates the successful collaboration we have with our mission partners at the FAA, NASA and SpaceX as innovation continues to shape the future of America's space operations and showcases why the 45th Space Wing is the ‘World’s Premier Gateway to Space.’”
Following the launch, SpaceX successfully landed the Falcon 9 first-stage booster on the company’s Landing Zone 1 at CCAFS. The fly back mission was the third successful one for SpaceX following previous first-stage booster landings on LZ-1 back in July 2016 and December 2015.
Since the late 1960s, KSC’s Launch Complex 39A has served as the starting point for America's most significant human spaceflight endeavors such as the Apollo 11 launch for the first manned moon landing in 1969 and the first Space Transportation System mission in 1981 with the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia, also named STS-1. Thirty years later, NASA’s 135th and final mission of the Space Shuttle program, STS-135, successfully launched the orbiter Atlantis from LC-39A.
The Falcon 9 CRS-10 launch was the second major launch operation for the Eastern Range this year and marks the tenth contracted mission by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.