VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif --
Women of the 30th Space Wing held significant roles during Vandenberg’s successful launch of its first interplanetary mission to Mars, here, on May 5.
From the prelaunch planning to the launch window of the Atlas V rocket, a majority of the key players and leadership roles were filled by the women of Vandenberg.
During a prelaunch meeting for the InSight launch, Lt. Col. Meredith Beg, 2nd Range Operations Squadron commander, noticed an uncommon occurrence.
“For the first time in a very long time, there was an equal amount of women as there were men at the table, and it was pretty neat,” said Beg. “Then I looked further and I said, ‘Oh Wow!’ There’s a lot of women in the leadership roles.”
The lead range operations controller for the launch was 1st Lt. Jeanne Nolan, 2nd ROPS, the primary interface between the launch agency and the rest of the range.
“I gathered status from each individual section of the range team,” said Nolan. “The weather status, mission flight control status and area clearance status are sent to me. I consolidated all of their statuses and presented the status of the range as a whole to the space launch commander. It was a pleasure working with all of them.”
The lead weather officer for the launch was Capt. Jennifer Haden, 30th Operations Support Squadron weather flight commander.
“InSight had the distinction of being the first interplanetary mission we've launched from Vandenberg AFB, so it was all-hands-on-deck for the weather team--everyone wanted to be involved,” said Haden. “The expertise within the team was leveraged to ensure that InSight would be safe as it made its way to space. We were focused and ready and I couldn't be more proud of my team.”
With the world’s eyes on Team Vandenberg, teamwork from participating agencies was at an all-time high.
“I am immensely proud of the collaboration between United Launch Alliance, Jet Propulsion Laboratories, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Range Team--all of the pieces came together and we worked smoothly towards a successful launch,” said Haden. “Weather was foggy and viewing conditions were less than optimal, but with a lot of work and a little luck we sent InSight on its way to Mars. What a spectacular launch it was--everyone involved deserves the highest praise for what the InSight launch director called our execution of a terrific launch campaign!”
With future launches on the horizon, the women of Team Vandenberg will continue to pave the way for future generations of Airmen.
“It's always a privilege to work alongside other amazing women in a highly technical, scientific career field,” said Haden. “To have so many women leading every facet of the team and yield a smooth count and successful launch, it speaks to the caliber of individuals we have here. Women only make up 20 percent of the Air Force, so it's a special honor when the stars align and I get to work with and for a team of exceptionally capable women. We're the torch bearers for the next generation, and I love that I get to be a small part of that and inspire others to follow in our footsteps.”