An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsroomNewsArticle Display

Article - Article View

New squadron provides space awareness

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Dennis Hoffman)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 18th Space Control Squadron was established July 22, 2016 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. to conduct routine Space Surveillance Network sensor tasking and space catalog maintenance, ensuring a foundational space awareness picture is delivered to the Joint Space Operations Center and Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center.

Prior to the establishment of the 18th SPCS, this function was performed by the JSpOC’s Space Surveillance Division. Additionally, 18th SPCS has assumed responsibility from the JSpOC’s Combat Operations Division for processing space events such as launches and reentries.

Placing the routine processing of things like space launches, space reentries, vehicle maneuvers, and human spaceflight support, under one squadron increases efficiency. The move enables the JSpOC and JICSpOC to focus on ensuring space effects are provided to the warfighter in theater and those defending our assets in space.

It is critically important to maintain awareness of events in the space domain to ensure global freedom of action. More than 94 percent of all objects in space are debris posing a constant threat to all active satellites, but threats to our space capabilities are evolving and awareness of them must be maintained as well.

The majority of 18th SPCS personnel are members of the U.S. Air Force, but two Royal Canadian Air Force personnel assigned to the squadron, with one more scheduled to arrive in 2017. Talks are underway to increase Canadian involvement with the squadron, which will increase the cooperation between the US and Canada in the space situational awareness mission area, as well as provide valuable experience for Canadian personnel employ at the Canadian Space Operations Center.

The 18th SPCS receives observation data from the Space Surveillance Network which is comprised of radar and optical sites located around the globe. In addition to receiving data from the sites, 18th SPCS also monitors the accuracy of the data and assists the various sites in calibrating sensors to maintain the data quality required to update the space catalog.

The squadron provides satellite operators with warnings about potential close approaches with other space objects. A specific aspect of this service is the support to NASA and the International Space Station. The 18 SPCS provides around the clock, on-orbit support to the ISS by monitoring the station for potential close approaches, protecting the lives of all personnel onboard.

Simultaneously with 18th SPCS activation, the 614th Air Operation Center’s Detachment 1 located at Dahlgren, Va., was reorganized as 18th SPCS, Detachment 1. Not only does this provide the squadron an alternate operating location, it focuses on integrating the unit into its daily operations. The 18th SPCS is organizationally aligned under the 21st Operations Group, 21st Space Wing Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and tactically assigned to the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui