Air Force Space Command
Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), created on 1 September 1982, is a major command headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. AFSPC defends
America through its space and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) operations, vital force elements in projecting global reach and global
Air Force Space Command makes space reliable for the warfighter by continuously improving the command's ability to provide and support combat forces
-- assuring their access to space. In addition, the command's ICBM forces deter any adversary contemplating the use of weapons of mass destruction.
AFSPC has four 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 of space.
- Space control ensures friendly use of space through the conduct of counterspace operations encompassing surveillance, negation and protection.
- Force enhancement provides weather, communications, intelligence, missile warning and navigation. Force enhancement is support to the
- Force application involves maintaining and operating a rapid response land-based ICBM force as the Air Force's only on-alert strategic
Approximately 40,000 people, including 28,300 active-duty military and civilians, and 11,700 contractor employees, combine to perform AFSPC
Air Force Space Command has two numbered air forces. Fourteenth Air Force provides space warfighting forces to U.S. Space Command, and is located at
Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Fourteenth Air Force manages the generation and employment of space forces to support U.S. Space Command and North American
Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operational plans and missions. Twentieth Air Force, located at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., operates and maintains
AFSPC's ICBM weapon systems in support of U.S. Strategic Command war plans.
The Space Warfare Center at Falcon Air Force Base, Colo. is also part of the command. The center plays a major role in fully integrating space systems
into the operational Air Force. Its force enhancement mission looks at ways to use space systems to support warfighters in the areas of navigation,
weather, intelligence, communications and theater ballistic missile warning, and how these apply to theater operations.
AFSPC is the major command providing space forces for U.S. Space Command and trained ICBM 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 Department of Defense's ICBM follow-on operational test and evaluation program.
AFSPC bases, stations and units include: Cheyenne Mountain, Falcon, Peterson and Buckley, Colorado; Onizuka and Vandenberg, California; Cape Canaveral
and Patrick, Florida; Minot, Grand Forks and Cavalier, North Dakota; F.E. Warren, Wyoming; Malmstrom, Montana; Clear, Alaska; New Boston, North
Hampshire; Thule, Greenland; and Woomera, Australia.
Spacelift operations at the East and West Coast launch bases provide services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (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
attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provide vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the
world. With a readiness rate above 99 percent, America's ICBM team plays a critical role in maintaining world peace and ensuring the nation's safety
AFSPC operates and supports the Global Positioning System, Defense Satellite Communications Systems Phase II and III, Defense Meteorological Satellite
Program, Defense Support Program, NATO III and IV communications and Fleet Satellite Communications System UHF follow-on and MILSTAR satellites. AFSPC
currently operates the Atlas II, Delta II, Titan II and Titan IV launch vehicles. This includes all of the nation's primary boosters from the Eastern
and Western ranges and range support for the space shuttle. AFSPC also operates the nation's primary source of continuous, real-time solar flare
warnings. The command also operates a worldwide network of satellite tracking stations to provide communications links to satellites -- a system
called the Air Force Satellite Control Network.
Ground-based radars used primarily for ballistic missile warning include the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, PAVE PAWS and PARCS radars. The
Maui Optical Tracking Identification Facility, Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System, Passive Space Surveillance System,
phased-array and mechanical radars provide primary space surveillance coverage.
The ICBM force consists of Minuteman III and Peacekeeper missiles that provide the critical component of America's on-alert strategic forces. As the
nation's "silent sentinels," ICBMs, and the people who operate them, have remained on continuous around-the-clock alert since 1959 -- longer than
any other U.S. strategic force. More than 500 ICBMs are currently on alert in reinforced concrete launch facilities beneath the Great Plains.
AFSPC is the Air Force's largest operator of UH-1N and HH-1H Huey helicopters, responsible for missile operations support and security.
Missile warning and space operations were combined to form Air Force Space Command in 1982, the same year NASA launched the first space shuttle.
During the Cold War, space operations focused on missile warning, and command and control for national leadership. 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.
Related Discussion Threads
The United States Air Force Space Command