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Citizen Airmen support weather satellite launch

Citizen Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, support a SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center (Courtesy photo)

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, support an Atlas V rocket launch March 1, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, much like the one shown. (Courtesy photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 920th Rescue Wing supported the Atlas V rocket launch, which delivered a next-generation weather satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration March 1.

During the launch window, the 301st Rescue Squadron works with other military and civilian agencies by flying HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to help ensure the safety of maritime traffic in the launch path in case of an anomaly.

“Each launch is unique, as it depends on the rocket type and support requirements,” said Lt. Col. John Tatton, 301st RQS chief of mobility.

Tatton, who led the 301st RQS launch support efforts, joined the 301st RQS in 2003 and began flying in 2005. Since then, he has supported 13 shuttle missions and numerous rocket launches.

“It is a unique experience to be a part of history,” he said. “We have been able to support the space program as it transitions from manned shuttle missions through the development of new technology and potentially back to manned missions."

According to NASA’s web site, the recent launch of the new Operational Environment Satellite “will provide faster, more accurate and more detailed data, in near real-time, to track storm systems, lightning, wildfires, coastal fog and other hazards that affect the western United States.”