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Launch Support Squadron celebrates first anniversary

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg's 30th Launch Support Squadron celebrates its first anniversary as a squadron Oct. 31. After taking charge of the still-new unit this summer, the commander gives an inside look at the workings of this unique unit.

Although a relatively new squadron, the 30th LCSS is steeped in launch heritage and experience born from the former 2nd Space Launch Squadron, which was deactivated after the last Titan IV rocket flew out last year.

"What makes the 30th Launch Support Squadron unique is that it's one of only two launch support squadrons in the Air Force; the other one is the 45th Launch Support Squadron at Cape Canaveral," said Lt. Col. Eric Kile, 30th LCSS commander. "We're also unique in the fact that in addition to the traditional operational support functions such as training, maintenance and infrastructure, we have an operational mission to process (Department of Defense) satellites."

The 30th LCSS includes three major mission areas; satellite processing, facility infrastructure and mission support, which includes operations and maintenance training. These capabilities enhance the 30th Launch Group's and 30th Space Wing's ability to effectively execute all phases of a launch campaign.

The Generation Flight provides mission assurance for spacecraft processing.
"This phase in their lifecycle is the most hazardous time and each operation has to be done precisely," said Capt. Robert Beal, Generation Flight commander. "The DMSP satellite, which will launch Nov. 4, actually arrived on base back in June 2005."

Since that time, the Generation Flight team has spent thousands of man-hours working alongside the Lockheed Martin contractor team, readying the spacecraft for launch, he said.

"We're very fortunate to work alongside the professional men and women of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company," Colonel Kile said. "They are trukey committed to excellence."

The Facilities Flight has two sections, the Group Control Center and the Facilities Section. The GCC provides a command control function for the 30th LCG. It integrates and de-conflicts activities which could impact launch operations. The GCC consolidates details of launch schedules as well as multiple wing agency schedules to create an integrated launch schedule.

"This product and de-confliction process reduces risk and increases leadership's ability to plan and execute all phases of launch," Colonel Kile said.

"In finding ways to enhance launch group communications, we have developed relationships with multiple base agencies and as a result, have improved communications throughout the 30th Space Wing," said Capt. Lori Manns, 30th LCSS Facilities Flight commander.

The Facilities Section provides mission assurance and facility management for all of the 30th LCG's payload and booster processing resources, launch support infrastructure and all major systems up to the fence line of the launch complexes. Such a diverse mix of infrastructure requires the unit's space and missile maintainers to provide a high level of expertise.

The Mission Support Flight provides operations and maintenance training, and develops and implements standardized policies for the 30th LCG as well as programmatic oversight. One recent major milestone included co-developing a multi-phased 30th SW training program with the 30th Operations Group. The new program increases efficiency and bolsters training by having experts in each group to teach their respective areas.

"These centralized programs strengthen the 30th SW's ability to effectively execute all phases of launch in support of Western Range launch campaigns," said Capt. Joe Orlandi, Mission Support Flight commander.

The Mission Support Flight also plays a major role in conducting integrated crew exercises, mission dress rehearsals and other major launch campaign training exercises for the entire launch team.

The unit's Airmen also support the Global War on Terror.

"Although we do not deploy as many Airmen as our warriors in the 30th (Civil Engineer Squadron), 30th Security Forces Squadron or 30th Space Communications Squadron, we do deploy Airmen in various capacities and roles; such as information managment," Colonel Kile said. "We've even deployed space operators and acquisition officers to NorthStar in preparation for real-world deployments. We take expeditionary operations to heart and we're ready when called upon."

The 30th LCSS employs a blend of space and missile operators, acquisitions officers, engineers, enlisted missile maintainers and information managers.

"The mix of specialties we have in our unit epitomizes the space professional development program," said Lt. Col. Mark Leonard, 30th LCSS deputy officer.

Together those Airmen play a key role in the success of Vandenberg's mission as it defends the United States through launch, range, and expeditionary operations.