Florida Air National Guard F-15 fighters and U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 helicopters operating under NORAD’s Continental U.S. Region, along with its interagency partners, ensured safe skies for the first U.S. manned space launch since 2011 on Saturday, May 30. Ahead of the launch NORAD and its interagency partners conducted Falcon Virgo Space Launch Support 20-01, a live-fly exercise held on May 21 allowing participants to sharpen air defense skills and help bring awareness to the general aviation community of the temporary flight restriction in place around Cape Canaveral on the day of the launch.
“As the nation geared up to watch the first manned space launch since 2011, you can rest assured that the men and women of NORAD were on watch guarding the skies overhead. Our continuous exercise and training programs allow us to sharpen our skills in preparation for significant events, such as this space launch.” said Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville, commander, Continental U.S. NORAD Region.
“Our members work around the clock defending our nation’s skies, and while this launch may be just one day, America’s Air Operations Center and CONR have spent months coordinating with NASA and interagency partners to support the first manned space launch in nine years,” said to Col. Greg Krane, commander, 601st Air Operations Center.
CONR ensured airspace sovereignty by enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary flight restriction area established around Cape Canaveral. CONR performed the Operation Noble Eagle mission for the launch and only had one airspace violation. NORAD is responsible for detecting, deterring, defending and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the citizens of the United States and to U.S. critical infrastructure. NORAD flights will have minimal impact on aircraft in the area and are not in response to any specific threat.
CONR-1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) serves as the continental U.S. component of NORAD, a numbered Air Force, and as the air component to U.S. Northern Command. It has the sole responsibility for ensuring the aerospace control and air defense of the continental U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD ) is a combined organization of the United States and Canada that provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and protection for Northern America. Headquarters for NORAD and the NORAD/United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) center are located at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, near Colorado Springs, Colorado.