Girish Mahajan (Editor)

1st Space Control Squadron

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Active  1961-2008,
Type  Space Control
Country  United States
Size  106
1st Space Control Squadron
Branch  United States Air Force
Role  Space Situational Awareness

The United States Air Force's 1st Space Control Squadron (1 SPCS) was a space situational awareness unit located at Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Colorado and later moved to Vandenberg AFB, California . 1 SPCS commanded the United States Space Surveillance Network to detect, track, identify and catalog positional data for all man-made objects in Earth orbit.



"Building space situational awareness is not the science of becoming omniscient about space but the art of understanding what's relevant for command and control of space forces." Lt Col Chance Saltzman, former 1 SPCS Commander

The 1 SPCS tracked and compiled positional data on thousands of man-made objects in space partly to prevent collisions between newly launched satellites and other objects already orbiting the earth. Additionally, the unit had the mission to task 30 space sensors within Space Surveillance Network to track satellites for US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to maintain an accurate satellite catalog (SATCAT) of over 9000 object orbiting the earth., To support manned space flight, 1 SPCS constructs a theoretical box around the space shuttle, MIR or ISS, and projects flight path intersections for 36 to 72 hours. If any objects intersects the theoretical box, the unit forwarded the analysis to NASA, allowing them to determine whether to change the spacecraft/space station's flight path. Based on 1 SPCS mission analysis, and its predecessor units, NASA has moved the space shuttle 12 times and the International Space Station five times since 1981. In June 1995, the unit tracked the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis during its historic rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir. The unit also compiled a catalog of space objects.

The 1 SPCS also contained international personnel, such as Canadian military, since SSA was not just a U.S. problem.


The 1st Command and Control Squadron provided collision avoidance support during each shuttle mission as well as maintaining an extensive satellite catalog (the "SATCAT" or "Box score"). This catalog is used by U.S. civilian and military agencies when launching new satellites into space, as well as by U.S. allies.

The roots of the 1 SPCS reach back to 1961, with the Space Detection and Tracking System (SPADATS) Center at Ent Air Force Base, CO. Through several moves, name changes, personnel, experience, and equipment, they were activated as the 1st Command and Control Squadron activated at Cheyenne Mountain AFS, CO, in December 1989, and were later redesignated in October 2001, as the 1 SPCS. Though the unit moved to Vandenberg AFB, California in 2007 to better coordinate activities with the Joint Space Operations Center (JSPoC), it lost over 150 years of expert civilian experience.


The unit was inactivated on 9 Jun 2008, and its mission and members integrated into the 614th Air and Space Operations Center / Joint Space Operations Center. Unconfirmed sources state that Cheyenne Mountain AFS may retain some capability to cover the 1 SPCS mission, if required.

Major Command

  • Air Force Space Command (???-9 Jun 2008)
  • Air Defense Command (???-???)
  • Numbered Air Force

  • 14th Air Force (???-9 Jun 2008)
  • Wing/Group

  • 21st Space Wing (???-9 Jun 2008)
  • 1st Space Wing (1 Dec 1989-28 Feb 1992)
  • Previous designations

  • 1st Space Control Squadron (1 October 2001 – 9 June 2008),
  • 1st Command & Control Squadron (30 November 1989 – 1 October 2001)
  • Space Detection and Tracking System Center (1961 - ???)
  • Bases stationed

  • Vandenberg AFB, California (2007-9 June 2008)
  • Peterson AFB, Colorado (2007-9 June 2008)
  • Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Colorado (1 December 1989-September 2007)
  • Ent Air Force Base, Colorado (1961-unknown)
  • Commanders

  • Lt David Agee (1989–1991)
  • Lt Col Joseph Wysocki (1991–1993)
  • Lt Col John M. Rabins (1993–1994)
  • Lt Col Michael A. Muolo (1994–1996)
  • Lt Col Joseph G. Baillargeon (1996–1998)
  • Lt Col David A. Strand (14 Aug 1998-2000)
  • Lt Col Craigen B. Anderson (2000-???)
  • Lt. Col. Scott F. Shepherd (2002–2004)
  • Lt Col Michael Mason (circa 2007),
  • Lt Col Chance Saltzman (???-2009)
  • Decorations

  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
  • 1 Jan 2000-31 Aug 2001
  • 1 Jan 1999-31 Dec 1999
  • 1 Oct 1997-30 Sep 1999
  • 1 Jan 1998-31 Dec 1998
  • 1 Oct 1995-30 Sep 1997
  • 1 Dec 1989-31 Aug 1991
  • References

    1st Space Control Squadron Wikipedia

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