The 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron was the “restoration 911” for the recent Discovery mission designated STS-116.
A vital support system to NASA shuttle launches, the Tactical Air Navigation system faulted at Moron Air Base, Spain two days before the scheduled launch of Discovery.
Moron AB is the primary emergency landing site for a launch aborted after lift-off and houses a TACAN system. The system, which must be operational during take off and landing, is necessary for the emergency landing when the shuttle must be redirected to a landing site outside the United States, or a transoceanic landing site.
After working around the clock to resolve the problem, the communications maintenance team at Moron called the 1st CMXS airfield systems special maintenance team for immediate assistance in restoring the TACAN to full operation.
The squadron commander, Maj. Robert Gill, promptly dispatched technical sergeants Jerry McDonald and Clyde McCleary.
The team was on site within one hour and began working in tandem with the Moron team.
An hour before the launch of the space shuttle, the team certified the TACAN as fully operational.
The 1st CMXS special maintenance team specializes in this type of emergency restoration. These hand-picked technical experts for airfield systems provide the service and assistance that literally “Keeps USAFE Flying.” They provide direct support for air traffic control radio, radar, tactical air navigation, instrument landing and meteorological measurement systems throughout U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Southwest Asia.
The STS-116 mission was the 21st shuttle mission for which the primary purpose is to facilitate the continued assembly of the International Space Station, and was also the first nighttime space shuttle launch in four years.