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1st Space Operations Squadron

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)

The 1st Space Operations Squadron is a component of Delta 9, headquartered at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado. The squadron was activated Oct. 5, 1987.

The 1st SOPS is the U.S. Space Force’s premier organization for space-based space domain awareness to assure access to space by commanding satellites to collect and disseminate decision-quality information throughout the spectrum of conflict. The squadron commands, controls and operates the Space Based Space Surveillance System, Advanced Technology Risk Reduction system, Operationally Responsive Space-5 and the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program.

Mission crews conduct 24-hour operations supporting the three major functions of satellite control: telemetry, tracking and commanding for USSF’s only space-based SDA assets. Orbital analysts, mission planners and program engineers provide program-specific knowledge and support to those crews while operators perform all pre-contact planning, real-time contact and post-contact actions.

On Sept. 25, 2010, SBSS was launched from Vandenberg AFB, California onboard the Minotaur IV into a sun-synchronous orbit. It was the first space-based SDA sensor to be added to USSF's Space Surveillance Network. SBSS provides metric observations and Space Object Identification data on satellites operating in low-earth, semi-synchronous and geosynchronous orbits to the Combined Space Operations Center and NASIC National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

ATRR launched from Vandenberg AFB May 5, 2009, onboard a Delta II delivery system. ATRR conducts SDA operations in support of the SSN. Satellite Control Authority was transferred to 1st SOPS Jan. 31, 2011, from the Missile Defense Agency. ATRR previously served as a pathfinder for next-generation sensor technology for future MDA space missions. It provides the CSpOC with geostationary belt surveillance for metric observations from a Low Earth Orbit.

Two GSSAP satellites were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV M+ (4, 2) booster configuration from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, July 28, 2014 and two replenishment satellites were launched Aug. 19, 2016. The GSSAP satellites provide a space-based capability operating in the near-geosynchronous orbit regime supporting U.S. Space Command space surveillance operations as a dedicated SSN sensor.

GSSAP satellites support the Joint Task Force-Space Defense tasking to collect space domain awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man­made orbiting objects. From a near-geosynchronous orbit, they have a clear, unobstructed and distinct vantage point for viewing Resident Space Objects without the interruption of weather or the atmospheric distortion that can limit ground-based systems. GSSAP satellites operate near the geosynchronous belt and have the capability to perform Rendezvous and Proximity Operations. RPO allows for the space vehicle to maneuver near an RSO of interest, enabling characterization for anomaly resolution and enhanced surveillance, while maintaining flight safety. Data from GSSAP uniquely contributes to timely and accurate orbital predictions, enhancing our knowledge of the geosynchronous orbit environment, and further enabling space flight safety to include satellite collision avoidance.

ORS-5 launched on an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV from Cape Canaveral AFS Aug. 26, 2017. The satellite operates at an altitude of 372 miles and continuously scans the geosynchronous orbit at a reduced cost compared to larger, more complex satellites. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory built satellite provides metric observations to the CSpOC as a dedicated SSN sensor.

The unit was originally activated Feb. 14, 1961, as the 1st Aerospace Control Squadron, which was in operation until April 1976. On Oct. 5, 1987, the squadron was activated, renamed the 1st Satellite Control Squadron, and began its ever-growing satellite control mission. On Feb. 16, 1988, the squadron began commanding the Defense Support Program constellation.

The Space Operations Center was operationally turned over to Air Force Space Command Dec. 21, 1989. The SOC increased its mission Feb. 20, 1990, when the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program mission was operationally turned over. In May 1996, satellite command authority for the first research and development satellite controlled by AFSPC, Technology for Autonomous Operational Survivability, was given to 1st SOPS.

In December 1989, 1st SOPS assumed control of launch and early orbit operations for Global Positioning System including satellite activation, initial checkout and transfer to mission orbit. The last support to the GPS launch was done from 1st SOPS December 2007 before transitioning to 2nd SOPS.

On Dec. 4, 1998, the squadron assumed command and control capability on the Midcourse Space Experiment. MSX became an operational program Oct. 1, 2000, with the first-ever transfer of operations from the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization to AFSPC. MSX was decommissioned in July 2008.

In May 2003, 1st SOPS assumed responsibility of conducting mission assurance telemetry for Department of Defense Boosters, the first mission assigned to Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center. This mission transitioned to the Space Test Squadron at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico in March 2009.

The operation center's first mission, TacSat-3, was transferred to 1st SOPS June 12, 2010 and retired from mission operations Feb. 17, 2012. TacSat-3, an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance satellite, provided Hyperspectral Imagery in support of Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate and NASIC. The satellite reentered the Earth's atmosphere April 30, 2012.

On June 29, 2011, MMSOC's second mission, ORS-1, launched from Wallops Island, Virginia onboard the Minotaur I. It was the first ISR satellite dedicated to a specific combatant command: U.S. Central Command. ORS-1 provided optical and infrared imagery using sensors based on the U-2 Senior Year Electro-Optical Reconnaissance. In January 2012, ORS-1 gained early COCOM acceptance, a milestone that allowed MMSOC to bring this capability to the warfighter sooner than expected.

ORS-1 operations were conducted in the MMSOC, a revolutionary approach to space operations. The operations center was focused on forging one-of-a-kind operations to demonstrate and field emerging space missions and satellite command and control technologies in a rapid, decisive manner, and it is the focal point for cutting edge technologies. In April 2014, ORS-1 operations were realigned under the command of the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron.

On June 19, 2020, as part of the U.S. Space Force protect and defend restructure, the 1st SOPS was transferred from the 50th OG to the newly activated 750th OG. The mission of the 750th OG is to prepare, present, and project assigned and attached forces for the purpose of conducting offensive and defensive operations from space and providing national decision authorities with response options to deter, defend, and defeat adversary threats in space.

As part of the U.S. Space Force structure change, as of July 24, 2020 the unit is under Delta 9.

(Current as of July 2020)