Falcon 9 Shadow Launch

The 45th Space Wing oversaw the launch of the first Air Force-procured SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for a civil mission as a dry run ahead of the company’s national security launch certification. “On-ramping a new launch vehicle provider is a major accomplishment and will help drive competition in the launch market, with the goal of driving down access-to-space costs for the US government,” said Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves in a release. The launch of NASA and NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., Feb. 11, was not a formal DOD launch-certification mission. Instead, SMC awarded the Falcon 9’s purchase contract, coordinated industry and agency cooperation, validated mission standards, and oversaw the launch as a dress rehearsal for potential future SpaceX missions. The Air Force plans to certify the company as an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle provider by mid-year.