PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Feb. 7 (UPI) — Patrick Air Force Base in Florida will be the first base to be renamed as a Space Force base within the next 30 days, the commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick said Friday.
“It’s exciting, but it is kind of fast. But it’s been good,” Brig. Gen. Douglas Schiess said. He said Space Force leadership was making sure “we are an agile service without a lot of bureaucracy to be able to get after what the nation needs us to do in continuing to be a space power.”
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which has overseen the majority of the nation’s rocket launches since the 1950s, soon will be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Schiess said. Patrick is about 20 miles south of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and helps support operations at the station.
President Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act in December 2019, directing the establishment of the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. It is part of the Department of the Air Force.
Rapid growth in launch activity on Florida’s Space Coast has occurred in recent years. Schiess said the 45th Space Wing has demonstrated that it can handle a pace of one rocket launch per week and even support two launches in one day. In 2018, the installation handled 24 launches, and 48 are scheduled for 2020, he said.
The 45th Space Wing provides weather forecasting, communications, security and other launch services, including monitoring the airspace and ocean waters around the launch pads at the Air Force station and Kennedy Space Center to ensure safety during a launch.
Patrick originally was a U.S. Navy seaplane base known as the Banana River Naval Air Station during World War II. It was renamed the Joint Long Range Proving Ground Base in 1949 and again renamed Patrick Air Force Base in August 1950, after Maj. Gen. Mason M. Patrick, chief of the American Expeditionary Force’s Air Service in World War I.
Other facilities that host Space Force operations are Buckley, Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases in Colorado and Los Angeles and Vandenberg Air Force bases in California.