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Native sends satellites into orbit
Airmen from the 45th Space Wing closely monitor weather conditions and traffic around Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of a launch exercise. - photo by Photo by Sr. Airman Christopher Griffin
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Satellites have become a fixed part of life for most Americans. They provide television to homes, help people find their way around, track weather patterns and offer a view of neighborhoods and cities around the world. The son of a Hinesville couple helps get those satellites into orbit, among other things.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark B. Palang, son of John and Helen Palang of Hinesville, is a combat arms instructor with the 45th Space Wing. The main part of the wing is at Patrick Air Force Base, but a few miles down the road, other parts of the wing work at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where the launches occur.
The 45th Space Wing launches rockets, including the Delta IV and Atlas V, which put those satellites in orbit and also provides support for the Department of Defense, NASA and commercial manned and unmanned space programs.
“I provide in-depth weapons training to the people on Patrick Air Force Base,” said Palang, a 2004 Bradwell Institute graduate.
Hundreds of airmen, including Palang, support launch operations both directly at the launch sites and indirectly as a part of support units that provide security and medical care.
“I enjoy interacting with and training the students and seeing an end product when a student qualifies on a weapon,” said Palang, who is assigned to the 45th Security Forces Squadron. “It pays off to know that your students acquired a lot more knowledge than they came into the class with because of you.”
It’s not all work for the members of the 45th Space Wing. The Patrick main gate is just across the street from a beach, and with Orlando and several parks and preserve areas only a short drive away, there is a lot for airmen to do.
“I enjoy the area, the beaches are beautiful,” Palang said. “The one thing I enjoy most is how close all the major cities in Florida are.”
Palang has been in the Air Force for six years. He is following in the footsteps of his father, who is retired from the Air Force.

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