18th Space Control Squadron
Published September 22, 2020
Provide and advance a continuous, comprehensive, and combat-relevant understanding of the space situation.
Premier provider of space domain awareness to enhance an information advantage and enable space superiority in the defense of United States and allied interests.
The 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS), located at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, executes continuous command and control of the U.S. Space Force Space Surveillance Network (SSN), a global collection of ground and space-based sensors that track all man-made objects in Earth’s orbit. The 18 SPCS processes SSN data to monitor activity to, in, and from space, and maintains custody of resident space objects. Primary mission functions include launch detection and tracking, conjunction assessment and collision avoidance, human spaceflight support, maneuver detection, breakup identification, and reentry assessment. The 18 SPCS also executes U.S. Space Command’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Sharing Program to commercial, international and academic partners, and shares space data with the world via the website www.space-track.org.
The 18 SPCS is jointly located with the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) at Vandenberg SFB. The squadron also has a detachment located at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren, Va., and an operating location in Colorado Springs, Colo. The 18 SPCS Det 1 performs the same mission functions as 18 SPCS, as well as tailored space support to the U.S. Navy. Among these locations, 18 SPCS has approximately 140 military and civil service personnel permanently assigned, as well as exchange officers from Canada and the United Kingdom.
The squadron enjoys a rich history of service. In 1966, the 18th Space Surveillance Squadron (SPSS) was activated at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, and operated the BakerNunn Camera satellite tracking system until the deactivation of the squadron in 1975. The 18 SPSS was then activated in 1990 to become part of the 1st Space Wing, Peterson AFB, Colo., and manage the worldwide Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System detachments. Following its activation, 18 SPSS was relocated in 1995 to Edwards AFB, Calif., renamed 18 SPCS in 2003, and deactivated in 2004. From 2004 to 2016, the space surveillance mission was executed by other U.S. Air Force organizations located at Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station in Colorado, and within the CSpOC in California. On July 22, 2016, 18 SPCS was reactivated at Vandenberg AFB, to perform the space domain awareness mission. The 18 SPCS is a unit under Space Delta 2 (DEL 2), whose mission is to prepare and present assigned and attached forces for the purpose of executing combat-ready Space Domain Awareness (SDA) operations.
Current as of Aug. 2021