45th Space Wing

The 45th Space Wing (45 SW) is a United States Space Force space launch wing. The 45th Space Wing is assigned to Space Operations Command and headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The wing also controls Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The 45th Space Wing is responsible for all space launch operations from the East Coast. It manages the Eastern Range, including launch activities for the Space Force, Department of Defense, NASA, and other private space corporations.

45th Space Wing
45th Space Wing.png
Shield of the 45th Space Wing
Founded12 November 1991; 28 years, 10 months
1 October 1949 (as Air Force Division, Joint Long Range Proving Ground)
Country United States
Branch United States Space Force
TypeSpace wing
RoleSpace launch
Part ofSpace Operations Command
HeadquartersPatrick Air Force Base, Florida, U.S.
Motto(s)Control of the battlefield begins here[1]
DecorationsMeritorious Unit Commendation (Navy-Marine) Streamer.jpg
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy)
US Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
AFOEA Streamer.jpg
Air Force Organization Excellence Award[2]
Commander Brig Gen Douglas A. Schiess[3]
Vice CommanderCol Brande H. Walton
Command ChiefCCM Scott J. King


The 45th Space Wing is one of two space launch wings for the U.S. Space Force, being responsible for executing military, intelligence, civil, and commercial space launches using the Eastern Range. Primary launch vehicles include the Atlas V, Delta IV, Delta IV Heavy, Pegasus, Minotaur, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Boeing X-37 rockets. It also supports U.S. Navy Trident II D5 ballistic missile tests and evaluation.[4]

The 45th Space Wing is the host wing for Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, providing base support for NASA, the Air Force's Technical Applications Center and 920th Rescue Wing, and U.S. Navy's Naval Ordnance Test Unit. [5]


  45th Operations Group (45 OG)[6]

45th Mission Support Group (45 MSG)

45th Medical Group (45 MDG)

45th Comptroller Squadron (45 CPTS)


45th Space Wing shield

The blue is used to symbolize the sky and space, while the gold is used to symbolize the excellence required to conduct successful range operations. Dividing the shield horizontally, across its right half, is a line of "Ts," which were adopted from previous patches reflecting the history of the wing’s installations as a test center for missiles and space vehicles. In the center of the shield, a large aquamarine and light blue globe represents Earth. A smaller globe, in the same colors, symbolizes the moon and other planets. Nine pimento red flight arrows indicated the normal equatorial departure routes for missiles and space vehicles on the Eastern Range. They also symbolize travel to other planets, as depicted by the smaller globe. Red was chosen for the flight arrows to indicate the stresses of launch and space flight and the heat of re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. A string of white "clouds" across the center of the large globe represent abnormal conditions, weather and radiation with which range personnel have to contend. The cloud symbol is also interpreted as the string of radomes and theodolites located throughout the Eastern Range.[7]


Air Force Division, Joint Long Range Proving Ground (1949–1950)Edit

The Air Force Division, Joint Long Range Proving Ground was established on 1 October 1949. Assigned to Headquarters Command, the Air Force Division include the 4800th Guided Missile Wing, which was gained on 30 December 1950. The Air Force Division, Joint Long Range Proving Ground managed the proving ground for Air Force, Army, and Navy activities, while also running the Air Force's guided missile test program at the facility.[8][9]

Long Range Proving Ground Division (1950–1951)Edit

On 16 May 1950 the Air Force Division, Joint Long Range Proving Ground was redesignated as the Long Range Proving Ground Division and reassigned from Headquarters Command to Air Research and Development Command. This renaming was directly in response to the Defense Department changed the status of guided missile testing centers from joint service commands to individual service responsibilities.[10][11]

Air Force Missile Test Center (1951–1964)Edit

Launch of the Freedom 7 on 5 May 1961, which was the first crewed spaceflight for the United States.

Less than a year later, on 30 June 1951 the Long Range Proving Ground Division was redesignated again, becoming the Air Force Missile Test Center, gaining the 6541st Missile Test Wing, later redesginated as the 6541st Operations Group (Range). The 4800th Guided Missile Wing would also experience redesignation as the 6555th Guided Missile Wing and then as the 6555th Guided Missile Group. Starting in 1955 it would have the 6555th Test Group (Missile) and in 1959 the 6555th Guided Missiles Group (Test and Evaluation) assigned to the center. In 1951 the 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron would briefly be assigned to the center. Starting in 1954 the 6550th Operations Squadron and 6555th Guided Missile Squadron (later 6555th Guided Missiles Squadron) would also be assigned to the center to assist in its test duties. In 1955 the 6550th Test Group (Missile) was briefly assigned to the Air Force Missile Test Center. In 1961 Air Force Missile Test Center's higher headquarters would change from Air Research and Development Command to Air Force Systems Command[12]

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the Air Force Missile Test Center would begin to build permanent launch complexes on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Air Force Missile Test Center performed launch tests of early Air Force missiles, such as the SM-65 Atlas, HGM-25A Titan I, and PGM-17 Thor. These missiles would all be modified into future space launch vehicles.[13]

Air Force Eastern Test Range (1964–1977)Edit

Air Force Eastern Test Range shield

On 15 May 1964 the Air Force Missile Test Center and the Atlantic Missile Range were redesignated as the Air Force Eastern Test Range (AFETR), managing all missile and space launches from the East Coast of the United States, specifically out of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It was reassigned to Air Force Systems Command's National Range Division. While the Air Force Eastern Test Range managed the range, launches themselves were managed by the Space Systems Division's 6555th Aerospace Test Wing. In addition to performing national security space launches, the Air Force Eastern Test Range also supported all NASA launches out of Kennedy Space Center, including Project Mercury, Project Gemini, and the Apollo program. [14][15]

The Air Force Eastern Test Range also continued to provide joint testing support for the Navy, which performed test launches of their submarine-launched ballistic missiles from the Eastern Test Range. Air Force Systems Command resumed direct oversight of the Air Force Eastern Test Range on 1 February 1972, before inactivating the range on 1 February 1977 and centralizing its management through the Space and Missile Systems Organization's Space and Missile Test Center.[16][17]

Eastern Space and Missile Center (1979–1991)Edit

In 1979 the Space and Missile Test Center was reorganized, becoming the Space and Missile Test Organization and the Air Force Eastern Test Range was reestablished on 1 October 1970 as the Eastern Space and Missile Center (ESMC), with the 6555th Aerospace Test Group subordinate to it. The Eastern Space and Missile Center assumed responsible for all range management and launch functions, including the management of telemetry stations at Antigua and Ascension Island. [18][19]

On 1 October 1979 the Space and Missile Test Organization was inactivated and the Eastern Space and Missile Center was directly subordinated to the Space Systems Division. A year later Air Force Systems Command began to transition the space launch mission to Air Force Space Command. On 1 October 1990 the Eastern Space and Missile Systems Center transferred to Air Force Space Command's 9th Space Division. After the 9th Space Division was inactivated on 1 October 1991, the Western Space and Missile Systems Center directly reported to Air Force Space Command.[20][21]

45th Space Wing (1991–present)Edit

On 12 November 1991, as part of a larger Air Force heritage initiative, the Eastern Space and Missile Center was redesignated as the 45th Space Wing (45 SW), with the 45th Operations Group assuming the lineage of the World War II-era 45th Bombardment Group (Medium). The Eastern Test Range was also renamed as the Eastern Range, to emphasize its operational nature. On 1 July 1993, the 45th Space Wing was assigned to the newly-reactivated Fourteenth Air Force.[22]

On 1 December 2003 the 45th Launch Group was activated to manage launch operations. On 31 July 2018 the 45th Launch Group was remerged with the 45th Operations Group in an effort to streamline Air Force Space Command organizations.[23][24]

The first launch under the 45th Space Wing was STS-44, with the Atlantis deploying a Defense Support Program satellite. The 45th Space Wing also supported a number of other firsts, such as the 22 May 2012 launch of SpaceX COTS Demo Flight 2, which was the first commercial vehicle to dock with the International Space Station. On 21 December 2015, the 45th Space Wing supported the first rocket landing, with Falcon 9 flight 20 landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1.[25]

On 20 December 2019, the 45th Space Wing, along with the rest of Air Force Space Command became part of the United States Space Force. The Fourteenth Air Force was redesignated as Space Operations Command, which the 45th Space Wing remained assigned to.[26]


Commander, 45th Space WingEdit

No. Commander Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
1Morrell, Jimmey R.Brigadier General
Jimmey R. Morrell
23 September 199130 June 19931 year, 280 days
2Dickman, Robert S.Major General
Robert S. Dickman
30 June 199324 January 19951 year, 208 days
3Cook, Donald G.Brigadier General
Donald G. Cook
30 June 199328 August 19952 years, 59 days
4Hinson, Robert C.Brigadier General
Robert C. Hinson
28 August 199527 March 19971 year, 211 days
5Starbuck, F. RandallBrigadier General
F. Randall Starbuck
27 March 199720 August 19992 years, 146 days
6Pettit, Donald P.Brigadier General
Donald P. Pettit
20 August 19997 June 20022 years, 291 days
7Pavlovich, J. GregoryBrigadier General
J. Gregory Pavlovich
7 June 200226 August 20042 years, 80 days
8Owen, Mark H.Colonel
Mark H. Owen
26 August 200421 June 20061 year, 299 days
9Helms, Susan J.Brigadier General
Susan J. Helms
21 June 200628 October 20082 years, 129 days
10Bolton, Edward L. Jr.Brigadier General
Edward L. Bolton Jr.
28 October 200812 February 20101 year, 107 days
11Wilson, B. EdwinBrigadier General
B. Edwin Wilson
12 February 201030 August 20111 year, 199 days
12Cotton, Anthony J.Brigadier General
Anthony J. Cotton
30 August 201112 June 20131 year, 286 days
13Armagno, Nina M.Brigadier General
Nina M. Armagno
12 June 20134 August 20152 years, 53 days
14Monteith, WayneBrigadier General
Wayne Monteith
4 August 201523 August 20183 years, 19 days
15Scheiss, Douglass A.Brigadier General
Douglas A. Schiess
23 August 2018Incumbent2 years, 43 days

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/About-Us/
  2. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  3. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/
  4. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/About-Us/State-of-the-Installation/
  5. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Article/329833/45th-space-wing/
  6. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/Units/
  7. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/history/
  8. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/history/
  9. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  10. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/history/
  11. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  12. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  13. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/history/
  14. ^ https://www.losangeles.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/AFD-060912-021.pdf?ver=2016-05-02-112844-290
  15. ^ https://www.airforcemag.com/apollo-11-and-the-air-force/
  16. ^ https://www.losangeles.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/AFD-060912-021.pdf?ver=2016-05-02-112844-290
  17. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  18. ^ https://www.losangeles.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/AFD-060912-021.pdf?ver=2016-05-02-112844-290
  19. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/history/
  20. ^ https://www.losangeles.af.mil/Portals/16/documents/AFD-060912-021.pdf?ver=2016-05-02-112844-290
  21. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  22. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  23. ^ https://www.afhra.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/433525/45-space-wing-afspc/
  24. ^ https://spacecoastdaily.com/2018/08/45th-launch-group-inactivated-combines-launch-mission-and-personnel-with-45th-operations-group/
  25. ^ https://www.patrick.af.mil/history/
  26. ^ https://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2048201/14th-air-force-redesignated-as-space-operations-command/

External linksEdit