WASHINGTON — The Eastern Range is on a path to launch as many as 40 rockets in 2020, bringing it closer to its much touted goal of 48 launches per year, said Brig. Gen. Douglas Schiess, commander of the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing and director of the Eastern Range at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
Schiess said the range is not taking growth for granted and reaching that goal will require attracting more commercial launch providers.
“We have to improve turnaround both with new technology and processes,” he said Oct. 9 at a Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill.
Brig Gen Douglas Schiess
Schiess reminded the audience that Eastern Range activity grew from seven launches in 2008 to 24 in 2018. For 2019, the 45th Space Wing is projecting as many as 30, although that forecast is in doubt as some launches will likely be delayed, he said.
For 2020, the range expects anywhere from 33 to 40 launches, said Schiess.
To accommodate more launches and make operations more efficient, the range will have to update its infrastructure and change administrative processes, he said. For example, the wing will introduce a new scheduling system that gives launch providers more ...