By Senior Airman Zoe Thacker
/ Published December 14, 2020
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. --
On the Eastern side of Florida, nestled within the aptly named ‘Space Coast’, stand two Department of the Air Force installations with an unparalleled history. Though the installations themselves have undergone several name changes, the mission still remains tried and true. As of Dec. 9, 2020, the 45th Space Wing will continue lifting off to new heights as Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
With a history dating back almost 100 years, Patrick SFB was originally owned and operated by the U.S. Navy; as Naval Air Station Banana River from 1940 to 1947. In September of 1948, the facility was transferred to the U.S. Air Force, however; several of the naval air station’s original structures, including runway segments, hangars, support buildings, seaplane parking areas and seaplane ramps into the Banana River remain part of the modern-day installation.
Once under Air Force ownership, the base was renamed the Joint Long Range Proving Ground and then renamed again, to be known as Patrick Air Force Base for 50 years. At this same time, Cape Canaveral SFS – which was known as Cape Kennedy Air Force Station from 1963 to 1973 – began to see serious traction as a launch hub for America’s delve into space exploration.
The teamwork of space professionals, from both the military and civilian sectors, brought to fruition many feats that seemed impossible for the 1960’s and early 1970’s; including launching the first U.S. Earth satellite, the first American astronaut in space, the first aircraft to orbit Mars and the first U.S. unmanned lunar landing.
With the creation of the Space Force almost one year ago and its designation under the new service, the 45th Space Wing also supported the launch of two manned missions into space, for the first time since 2011.
The renaming of the two installations is but one more step in solidifying not only the 45th Space Wing and Space Force’s hold as the frontrunners in space exploration and defense, but the Nation’s as a whole. With a projected 39 launches on the calendar for 2020, Patrick SFB and Cape Canaveral SFS continues as one team, delivering assured access to space for the warfighter and for the Nation.
Based at Patrick SFB, the 920th Rescue Wing is the only Air Force Reserve Command wing that trains and equips Airmen to carry out its mission to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel. Air Force rescue is the only DoD entity specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.
The 920th RQW is comprised of 23 subordinate groups and squadrons, including three geographically separated units; one at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, one at Portland, Oregon, and one at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
“These Things We Do, That Others May Live”