100 Successful Launches

Air Force Space Command last week launched a National Reconnaissance Office intelligence satellite from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. The successful launch was treated as routine, but it quietly marked a significant milestone in USAF launch history. It was the Air Force’s 100th consecutive successful national security space launch. The string of successes, which dates back to 1999, is the result of years of self examination, process improvement, and mission assurance changes implemented after a disastrous period in the late 1990s that saw multiple launch failures costing billions of dollars. Since April 1999, Air Force Space Command has successfully sent USAF, Navy, Missile Defense Agency, NOAA dual-use satellites, and other payloads into space with steady success. “We have literally gone back to basics on the launch business,” AFSPC boss Gen. William Shelton told Air Force Magazine. Every launch today is looked at as “our first in the sequence, not the latest in a long string of successes.” (Continue to full story.)