Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is a major command of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. AFSPC supports U.S. military operations worldwide through the use of many different types of satellite, launch and cyber operations. Operationally, AFSPC is under the Combatant Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.
More than 40,000 people perform AFSPC missions at 88 locations worldwide, including military, civilians and contractors. This includes approximately 22,000 military personnel and 9,000 civilian employees, although their missions overlap.
On 1 December 2009, the intercontinental ballistic missile mission was transferred to the new Air Force Global Strike Command. AFSPC gained the cyber operations mission with the stand-up of 24th Air Force under AFSPC in August 2009.
|Active||1 September 1982–present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Role||Development and operation of military space technologies|
|Part of||U.S. Strategic Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Peterson Air Force Base,Colorado|
|Motto||Guardians of the High Frontier
|Commander||Gen William L. Shelton
|Vice Commander||Lt Gen John E. Hyten
|Executive Director||Barbara Westgate
|Command Chief Master Sergeant||CMSgt Linus Jordan
According to AFSPC, its mission is “to provide resilient and cost-effective Space and Cyberspace capabilities for the Joint Force and the Nation.” AFSPC claims its activities make space reliable to United States warfighters (i.e. forces personnel) by assuring their access to space.
AFSPC’s primary mission areas:
- Space forces support involves launching satellites and other high-value payloads into space using a variety of expendable launch vehicles and operating those satellites once in the medium ofspace.
- Space control ensures friendly use of space through the conduct of counterspace operations encompassing surveillance, negation, protection and space intelligence analysis.
- Force enhancement provides weather, communications, intelligence, missile warning, and navigation. Force enhancement is support to the warfighter.
During the Cold War, space operations focused on missile warning, and command and control for the National Command Authority. Missile warning and space operations were combined to form what was known as Space Command in 1982. Following the creation of United States Space Command, a Unified Combatant Command, in 1985, Space Command was renamed Air Force Space Command. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm provided emphasis for the command’s new focus on support to the warfighter. ICBM forces were merged into AFSPC in 1993 and then moved to Air Force Global Strike Command in 2009. Air Force Space Command became the lead Major Command for Air Force cyberspace operations in 2009, gaining Air Force cyber operations and combat communications units and the Air Force Network Integration Center and Air Force Spectrum Management Office (formerly known as the Air Force Frequency Management Agency). On Apr. 1, 2013, Air Force Space Command Announced that the Space Innovation and Development Center’s missions had been realigned under Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, and the Air Force Warfare Center.
List of commanders
|No.||Image||Name||Start of Term||End of Term|
|1.||Gen. James V. Hartinger||1 September 1982||30 July 1984|
|2.||Gen. Robert T. Herres||30 July 1984||1 October 1986|
|3.||Maj. Gen. Maurice C. Padden||1 October 1986||29 October 1987|
|4.||Lt. Gen. Donald J. Kutyna||29 October 1987||29 March 1990|
|5.||Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Moorman Jr.||29 March 1990||23 March 1992|
|6.||Gen. Donald J. Kutyna||23 March 1992||30 June 1992|
|7.||Gen. Charles A. Horner||30 June 1992||13 September 1994|
|8.||Gen. Joseph W. Ashy||13 September 1994||26 August 1996|
|9.||Gen. Howell M. Estes III||26 August 1996||14 August 1998|
|10.||Gen. Richard B. Myers||14 August 1998||22 February 2000|
|11.||Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart||22 February 2000||19 April 2002|
|12.||Gen. Lance W. Lord||19 April 2002||1 April 2006|
|Acting||Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz||1 April 2006||26 June 2006|
|13.||Gen. Kevin P. Chilton||26 June 2006||3 October 2007|
|Acting||Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel||3 October 2007||12 October 2007|
|14.||Gen. C. Robert Kehler||12 October 2007||5 January 2011|
|15.||Gen. William L. Shelton||5 January 2011||Incumbent|
Numbered Air Forces
Air Force Space Command has two active Numbered Air Forces (NAFs).
Fourteenth Air Force
The Fourteenth Air Force provides space warfighting forces to U.S. Strategic Command in its capacity as Air Forces Strategic-Space, and is located at Vandenberg AFB, California. It manages the generation and employment of space forces to support U.S. Strategic Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operational plans and missions.
Twenty-Fourth Air Force
The Twenty-fourth Air Force, with the cyber operations mission, was activated under AFSPC in August 2009, at Lackland Air Force Base.
Direct Reporting Units
AFSPC is the major command providing space forces and trained cyber warfare forces for U.S. Strategic Command. AFSPC also supports NORAD with ballistic missile warning information, operates the Space Warfare Center to develop space applications for direct warfighter support, and is responsible for the U.S. Department of Defense‘s ICBM follow-on operational test and evaluation program.
Space and Missile Systems Center
The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles AFB, California, designs and acquires all Air Force and most Department of Defense space systems. It oversees launches, completes on-orbit checkouts, then turns systems over to user agencies. It supports the Program Executive Office for Space on the NAVSTAR Global Positioning, Defense Satellite Communications and MILSTAR systems. SMC also supports the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and the Follow-on Early Warning System. In addition, it supports development and acquisition of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Air Force Program Executive Office for Strategic Systems.
Air Force Network Integration Center
The Air Force Network Integration Center (AFNIC), located at Scott AFB, IL, is a direct reporting unit to Air Force Space Command, and the Air Force’s premier organization for Air Force Network Integration, cyber simulation, and network standards, architecture and engineering services.
Air Force Spectrum Management Office
The AFSMO mission is to plan, provide and preserve access to the radio frequency spectrum for the Air Force and selected Department of Defense activities in support of national policy objectives, systems development and global operations. This includes obtaining spectrum access critical for all Air Force core functions.
The AFSPC headquarters is a major unit located at Peterson AFB, Colorado. There are 6 AFSPC host bases:
- Buckley AFB, Colorado
- Los Angeles AFB, California
- Space and Missile Systems Center
- Global Positioning Systems Directorate
- Space Superiority Systems Directorate
- Launch and Range Systems Directorate
- Space-Based Infrared Systems Directorate
- Defense Weather Systems Directorate
- Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate
- Space Logistics Directorate
- Missile Defense Systems Directorate
- Space Development and Test Directorate (Kirtland AFB, New Mexico)
- Spacelift Range and Network System Division
- 61st Air Base Group
- Space and Missile Systems Center
- Patrick AFB, Florida
- Peterson AFB, Colorado
- 21st Space Wing
- 310th Space Wing (AFRC)
- 821st Air Base Group (Thule Air Base, Greenland)
- Schriever AFB, Colorado
- Vandenberg AFB, California
AFSPC also operates several Air Force Stations for launch support and early warning missions.
- Cape Cod Air Force Station, Massachusetts
- Cavalier AFS, North Dakota
- Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Colorado
- Clear Air Force Station, Alaska
- New Boston AFS, New Hampshire
Spacelift operations at the East and West Coast launch bases provide services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, NASA and commercial launches. Through the command and control of all DOD satellites, satellite operators provide force-multiplying effects—continuous global coverage, low vulnerability and autonomous operations. Satellites provide essential in-theater secure communications, weather and navigational data for ground, air and fleet operations and threat warning. Ground-based radar and Defense Support Program satellites monitor ballistic missile launches around the world to guard against a surprise missile attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provide vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the world.
General Shelton has said that in order to protect against attacks, Space Situational Awareness is much more important than additional hardening or armoring of satellites.
As of 2013, Space Command is considering Space Disaggregation, which would involve replacing a few large multimission satellites with larger numbers of smaller single purpose birds. This could be used to defend against ASATs, by increasing the number of targets that needed to be attacked.
- Advanced Extremely High Frequency
- Defense Satellite Communications System
- Defense Meteorological Satellite Program
- Defense Support Program
- Fleet Satellite Communications System UHF follow-on
- Global Positioning System
- NATO III and IV communications
- Space Based Space Surveillance
Launch vehicles (UNCLASSIFIED)
Space situational awareness
- Air Force Satellite Control Network
- Maui Optical Tracking Identification Facility
- Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System
- Passive Space Surveillance System
- Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System
Ballistic missile warning radars
- AN/FPS-115 PAVE PAWS
- AN/FPS-108 Cobra Dane
- AN/FPQ-16 Perimeter Acquisition Radar Characterization System (PARCS)
- Sea-based X-band Radar Sea-Based X-Band Radar
- Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS)
In popular culture
In the science-fiction TV series’ Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe the fictional Stargate Program is managed by the U.S. military, primarily the Air Force. The Air Force Space Command patch was in those series worn by personnel at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and onboard various fictional spaceships.
United States Space Surveillance Network
The Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS) facility in Southwest Asia is one of three operational sites worldwide. Specialists at the three sites track known man-made deep space objects in orbit around earth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. John Rohrer)