CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Saturday, NASA and SpaceX launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying two American astronauts, on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It marked the first time in nine years that humans have been sent to space from American soil.
To ensure a swift response in the event of a malfunction, “U.S. Space Command and the U.S. Air Force assigned search and rescue professionals to stand alert ahead of the launch” at various bases, one of them being Joint Base Charleston (JBC).
Lt. Col. Jeff Banker, mission commander for the human space flight rescue team, said that while his teams hoped they weren’t needed, they were “happy to go out there and assist our guys [and] provide them peace of mind in climbing into the capsule.”
Each team had “Pararescuemen, Combat Rescue Officers and Aircrew Flight
Equipment specialists who were ready to board HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, HC-130J
Combat King rescue aircraft or C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at a moment’s notice and perform
open-ocean, airdrop-enabled rescue operations to extract, stabilize and ensure transport to
definitive medical care, if needed.” The C-17’s were a new addition to the rescue squad; Lt. Col. Banker explained that they “extend the reach” of the rescue missions.
Crews at JBC, and other bases, were ready to “utilize the speed and reach of the C-17 Globemaster III” to conduct rescue missions.