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Space Commander Pushes Wing To 48 Launches Per Year

Brig. Gen. Douglas A. Schiess. Photo: Air Force

Air Force leaders want to launch 48 rockets per year from Florida’s Space Coast. Upgrades to the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base have helped them get nearly halfway there.

It’s called the “Drive to 48” and would mean the 45th Space Wing would support about one launch per week, with two scheduled breaks for range maintenance that would last about two weeks.

The Space Wing is responsible for launch safety as well as providing weather information to mission controllers for launches from both Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.

45th Space Wing Commander Brigadier General Douglas Schiess said launches are ramping up on the space coast this year, getting his team closer to 48. “We’re really hoping to get to 24, 25, 26, so we can say we’re halfway to 48. But most of our schedule looking out to 2019 is around 30.”

The 45th Space Wing has upgraded its safety technology, as well as weather prediction systems, to help support more launches. Schiess, who took command of the Wing in August 2018, said it's more than just upgrades on base.

"It’s a culture of we want to be as fast as we can so that we can be good customers with our commercial folks which are launching for their business, but then the next day their launching for us, in our national security space."

One of the busiest launch years was 2016, tallying 23. So far this year, that number is at 21.

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to Central Florida in 2005 to attend the University of Central Florida. He began working at WMFE as a college intern where he discovered his love for public radio.