U.S. Northern Command, NORAD support Atlantis shuttle mission

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - United States Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command provide support to NASA and the shuttle program’s mission with distinctly different but important missions.

NORAD — the bi-national command responsible for air defense of North American airspace — is ensuring airspace safety and security for the STS-115 launch and landing and providing irregular air patrols to enforce the FAA’s Temporary Flight Restriction zones over the space shuttle and
along its flight path. NORAD support will consist of U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter planes and U.S. Coast Guard helicopters enforcing the TFR.

The FAA's Notice to Airmen can be viewed by linking to the FAA’s Web site at http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/

NORAD is also prepared to respond to any shuttle emergency by securing the airspace over necessary Launch Abort Sites should emergency landing be required.

The safety and security of North American airspace remains NORAD's prime mission. The command retains a robust air defense posture to maintain air sovereignty over the continental United States, Alaska and Canada. Since Sept. 11, 2001, NORAD fighters have scrambled or diverted more than 2,100 times in response to air events, and NORAD aircraft have flown more than 42,000 missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

U.S. Northern Command is the lead U.S. Department of Defense organization responsible for military incident support to the space shuttle. Support includes astronaut rescue and recovery and orbiter recovery. USNORTHCOM, established in 2002 and fully operational Sept. 11, 2003, coordinates U.S. military for the Department of Defense efforts to assist the space shuttle astronauts in the event
of an emergency. USNORTHCOM will command and control DoD forces in the event of an emergency mainly through Joint Task Force-115 under the authority of U.S. Navy Capt. Mike Tillotson.

JTF-115 is made up of operations, information command and control specialists, and support personnel who understand, focus and employ DoD’s unique capabilities. The JTF works with NASA, DoD installations, the U.S. military services and other U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard to accomplish the mission. More than 400 DoD personnel are ready to support the second Return to Flight mission, with 14 members of JTF-115 on location in Florida monitoring and providing command and control of DoD forces.

The mission of USNORTHCOM is homeland defense and civil support. The command conducts operations to deter, prevent, defeat and mitigate threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests within the assigned area of responsibility and, as directed by the President or Secretary of Defense, provide military assistance to civil authorities including consequence management operations.