CONR supports Shuttle Endeavour launch

  • Published
The Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and Air Forces Northern provided crucial airspace control and shuttle support to the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour.

CONR ensured airspace sovereignty by enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration's temporary flight restriction area established around Kennedy Space Center. Using F-15E aircraft from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson, Air Force Base, N.C., CONR performed its Operation Noble Eagle mission.

CONR also supported launch operations by deploying the Joint-Based Expeditionary Connectivity Center team to Cape Canaveral to provide a comprehensive air picture to the entire launch team partners.

"The JBECC provided critical tactical data link support, creating an improved air picture for fighter aircraft that patrolled the airspace around the Shuttle's launch site," said Maj. Renae Wright, Director of JBECC Operations. "We are very proud of our mission and the unique capabilities JBECC provides in support of homeland defense events such as the Space Shuttle launch."

The JBECC, assigned to the 601st Air & Space Operations Center located at Tyndall AFB, Fla., is a highly mobile, rapidly deployable, communications system that networks multiple real-time radar sensors and correlates their data into an improved air picture for the warfighter. This capability enables NORAD to better detect, track, identify, and prosecute any airborne aircraft, cruise missile, unmanned aerial vehicle, or remotely piloted vehicle.

AFNORTH provided the headquarters manning for U.S. Northern Command's Joint Task Force-Space Transportation System, responsible for the search and rescue of the astronauts and recovery of the orbiter if the need arises. AFNORTH also serves as the operational level focal point for

providing mission awareness and crisis response to space shuttle mission contingencies.

"As members of CONR, we are proud to support and protect the skies overhead the shuttle while

AFNORTH personnel provide manning for potential search and rescue operations," said Col. Scott Barberides, JTF-STS commander.

The task force provided the command and control of Department of Defense forces during crisis response operations from the Morrell Operations Center at Cape Canaveral AFS.

"Our involvement with NASA's shuttle program truly is a total team effort," said Colonel Barberides. "There is a lot of coordination that has to occur before a shuttle can launch. Much of that coordination is among CONR, the Joint Task Force, our air assets located at Patrick, and Range Operation here at the Cape."

The 114th Range Operations Squadron at Patrick AFB, Fla., provided range safety and tracking support for Shuttle launches occurring on the Eastern Range.

"Prior to lift-off, the 114th coordinates with CONR and the Eastern Air Defense Sector to ensure there is transparency between the Operation Noble Eagle air patrols and range operations," said Lt. Col. Julia Black, launch safety officer. "In the case of a shuttle search and rescue scenario, AFNORTH members on JTF-STS would work with 114th range operators to maneuver forces as quickly and safely as possible to locate the astronauts."

The 114th ROS mission is to provide support to the 45th Space Wing during Eastern Range launches and to operate and maintain the Ballistic Missile Range Safety Technology program.

"I am extremely proud of the job the men and women of this command and all the other supporting entities have done, and continue to do, in support of this mission," said Maj. Gen. Garry C. Dean, AFNORTH commander.