DOD Support to manned space operations for STS-118

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs


U.S. Northern Command is the focal point for military emergency 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 support for the Department of Defense efforts to assist the Space Shuttle astronauts in the event of an emergency.  All information on DOD units and NORAD contained in this release is subject to change.

Launch Facts
The Space Transportation System (STS) -118 mission is the 22nd shuttle flight to the International Space Station. It will continue space station construction by delivering a third starboard truss segment.  The mission will be Endeavour’s 20th and its first flight in more than four years.

Launch Window: NASA announced August 7 as the planned launch date for STS-118. 
Launch Slip Opportunities: 24- or 48-hour scrub possible
Landing:  Duration of the STS-118 mission is 11 days after launch and may be extended. 

NORAD Launch Support
Fighters from the U.S. Air Force, enforcing the FAA established Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) around the Kennedy Space Center.

Launch Contingency Support
USNORTHCOM provides a variety of support throughout launch, on-orbit and landing.  In cooperation with NASA, U.S. Strategic Command and the DOD Human Space Flight Support Office (HSFSO), USNORTHCOM has developed plans to locate and retrieve the astronauts if they have a pad or launch emergency, are forced to bailout of the shuttle, or have to return for landing.  Numerous Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft and Coast Guard ships are pre-positioned or on standby to quickly launch to conduct search and rescue operations.  For STS-118, the following DOD and DHS assets are supporting the mission:

20 US Air Force/Air National Guard Pararescue personnel (308th Rescue Squadron (RQS), Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.; 103rd RQS, Gabreski, NY)
4 HH-60s (301st RQS, Patrick AFB)
1 US Air Force Reserve/US Air National Guard HC-130 (39th RQS (AFRC), Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.; and 1 Air National Guard HC-130 (102nd RQS, F.S. Gabreski Airport N.Y.)
1 KC-130 (2d Marine Air Wing, Cherry Point N.C.)
6 Army HH-60s (Fort Irwin, CA)
5 Air Force UH-1 (White Sands Missile Range, NM)

The United States Navy’s Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Center at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., and Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Center and Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va., and the United States Air Force’s Rescue Coordination Center will also be in direct support to Commander, U.S. Northern Command.

Launch Abort Sites (LAS) and East Coast Launch Abort Landing Sites (ECALS)
Additionally U.S. military units at the following Shuttle Launch Abort Sites are on alert to support an emergency landing during the launch phase for STS-118.  These bases lie near the intended flight path for STS-118: 

Atlantic City International Airport, N.J.                         Oceana Naval Air Station, Va.           
Dover Air Force Base, Del.                                         Otis Air National Guard Base, Mass.
F. S. Gabreski Airport, N.Y.                                         Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H.
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.             

DOD Augmented/Emergency Landing Sites         
If the shuttle experiences an on-orbit emergency and has to land immediately, NASA has established several civilian and military landing sites around the world.  US military personnel at the following locations are prepared to support an emergency landing of the shuttle:

Augmented Sites:  While the Primary Landing Site is Kennedy Space Center, Fla., alternate DOD Augmented Landing Sites Edwards AFB, Calif., and White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., can be quickly readied to support a shuttle landing with an on-scene commander, fire/crash/rescue forces, and medical evacuation capabilities. 
Emergency Landing Sites:  These locations are strategically located around the world in the flight path of STS-118.  They have runways long enough for the shuttle and have compatible navigation aids.  The following Emergency Landing Sites are located within the United States:

Atlantic City International Airport, N.J. (ECALS) 
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, Calif. 
Dover Air Force Base, Del. (ECALS)
Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska   
F.S. Gabreski Airport, N.Y. (ECALS)
Kennedy Space Center 

MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. (ECALS)
McDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
Oceana Naval Air Station, Va. (ECALS)
Otis Air National Guard Base, Mass.  (ECALS)
Pease Air National Guard Base, N.H. (ECALS)
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
White Sands Space Harbor NM
Edwards AFB, Calif.

The emergency recovery sites only have the minimum number of people needed to assist the astronauts, and will respond to a shuttle landing as they would for any large aircraft emergency landing. 

Alternate Landing Sites
The shuttle is expected to return to Kennedy Space Center on or about 11 days after launch and DOD support will be provided from Patrick AFB, Fla., Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Kennedy Space Center, Fla. and USNORTHCOM Headquarters at Peterson AFB, Colo.  However, alternate landing sites at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Holloman AFB/White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., can be quickly readied to support a shuttle landing. 

Additional USNORTHCOM Support
Air Forces Northern serves as the operational level focal point for situational understanding and crisis response to space shuttle mission contingencies.  Additionally AFNORTH will work in concert with Deputy DOD Manager (DDOD Mgr), DoD Human Space Flight Office, Joint Forces Land Component Commander, Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander, Joint Forces Air Component Commander and the United States Coast Guard, as necessary, to execute CDR USNORTHCOM’s role supporting CDR USSTRATCOM’s mission of Defense Support for Manned Space Flight Operations.  AFNORTH’s Joint Task Force (JTF) -STS leadership includes:

16 AFNORTH personnel
One 301st RQS Liaison Officer (LNO) (Air Ops)
One U.S. Army North (Defense Coordinating Officer) LNO


For additional information about DOD and/or NORAD/USNORTHCOM or AFNORTH support to STS-118, contact Lt Col Don Arias (850-624-4293), or Master Sgt Jerry Harlan (850-774-4061), or contact the KSC Media Center, 321-853-2181.