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Air Force Space Command

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Air Force Space Command
Air Force Space Command.png
Shield of Air Force Space Command
Active1 September 1982 – 20 December 2019
(37 years, 3 months)
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
TypeMajor command
RoleSpace warfare[2]
Part of
United States Space Command emblem 2019.png
U.S. Space Command
HeadquartersPeterson Air Force Base, Colorado, U.S.
Motto(s)"Guardians of the High Frontier"[3]
AFOEA Streamer.jpg

Air Force Organization Excellence Award[1]

Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) was a major command of the United States Air Force from September 1982 to December 2019. On 20 December 2019, concurrent with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020, it was re-designated as the United States Space Force and became a new sixth service branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for space warfare.[4]

AFSPC had its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base and supported U.S. military operations worldwide through the use of many different types of space operations. More than 38,000 people performed AFSPC missions at 88 locations worldwide; including military personnel of the USAF, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard; Department of the Air Force civilians; and civilian contractors.


In 1982, Space Command was formed to centralize missile warning operations (formerly a Strategic Air Command responsibility) and space launch operations (formerly an Air Force Systems Command responsibility). In 1985, Space Command was renamed Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).

In 1991, the lessons learned during Operation Desert Storm provided emphasis for AFSPC's new focus on support to other branches of the military. AFSPC was the subject of a 60 Minutes News segment on CBS in April 2015. When speaking with reporter David Martin, commanding General John E. Hyten was able to state that the program was doing its part in keeping the global world of GPS satellites and other important global satellite usage peaceful. Possible issues included the development of anti-satellite technology, and the new Boeing X-37 spaceplane was also discussed.[5]

In 2016 Air Force Space Command began its Space Mission Force concept of operations to respond quickly to attacks in space.[6] Each Space Wing's space operators underwent special training before serving a four to six month mission rotation.[7]

On 20 December 2019, Air Force Space Command was redesignated as the U.S. Space Force and elevated to become a military service.[8]


According to AFSPC, its mission was to "Provide resilient and affordable space capabilities for the Joint Force and the Nation."[9]

AFSPC's primary mission areas were:

Space capabilities

Operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station provided services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of space launches. AFSPC was responsible for the command and control of all US DoD satellites, providing global coverage, secure communications, weather and navigational data, and threat warning. Ground-based radar and Defense Support Program satellites monitored ballistic missile launches around the world to guard against a surprise missile attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provided vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the world.

Space Situational Awareness was the most important protective measure that could be applied to satellites, which are inherently vulnerable due to the physics of spaceflight.[11] As of 2013, AFSPC was also considering the replacement of a few large multimission satellites with larger numbers of smaller single purpose platforms.[12] This may be used to defend against ASATs by increasing the number of targets that would need to be attacked to neutralize space-based capabilities.[13]



Launch vehicles

Space situational awareness

Ballistic missile warning radars


Fourteenth Air Force

The Fourteenth Air Force (14 AF) was an active Numbered Air Force that was located at Vandenberg AFB, California. It was responsible for launching payloads to space from facilities in California and Florida and managed the generation and employment of space forces to support U.S. Strategic Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operational plans and missions.[14]

Direct Reporting Units

AFSPC was responsible for providing space assets to the U.S. Strategic Command. AFSPC also supported NORAD with ballistic missile warning information, operates the Space Warfare Center to develop space capabilities, and was responsible for the US DoD ICBM follow-on operational test and evaluation program.

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 officer 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.


The AFSPC headquarters was a major unit located at Peterson AFB, Colorado. There were six AFSPC host bases:

AFSPC also operated several Air Force Stations for launch support and early warning missions:

List of commanders

No. Commander Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
James V. Hartinger
1 September 1982[15][16]20 July 19841 year, 323 days
Robert T. Herres
20 July 19841 October 19862 years, 73 days
3Major General
Maurice C. Padden
1 October 198629 October 19871 year, 28 days
4Lieutenant General
Donald J. Kutyna
29 October 198729 March 19902 years, 151 days
5Lieutenant General
Thomas S. Moorman Jr.
29 March 199023 March 19921 year, 360 days
Donald J. Kutyna
23 March 199230 June 199299 days
Chuck Horner
30 June 199213 September 19942 years, 106 days
Joseph W. Ashy
13 September 199426 August 19961 year, 348 days
Howell M. Estes III
26 August 199614 August 19981 year, 353 days
Richard B. Myers
14 August 199822 February 20001 year, 192 days
Ralph E. Eberhart
22 February 200019 April 20022 years, 56 days
Lance W. Lord
19 April 20021 April 20063 years, 347 days
-Lieutenant General
Frank Klotz
1 April 200626 June 200686 days
Kevin P. Chilton
26 June 20063 October 20071 year, 99 days
-Lieutenant General
Michael A. Hamel
3 October 200712 October 20079 days
C. Robert Kehler
12 October 20075 January 20113 years, 85 days
William L. Shelton
5 January 201115 August 20143 years, 222 days
John E. Hyten
15 August 201425 October 20162 years, 71 days
John W. Raymond
25 October 201620 December 20193 years, 56 days

See also


  1. ^ a b "Air Force Space Command (USAF)". Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  2. ^ "Air Force Space Command > About Us".
  3. ^ "Air Force Space Command Heritage". Air Force Space Command. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  4. ^ Browne, Ryan (21 December 2019). "With a signature, Trump brings Space Force into being". CNN. CNN. Retrieved 21 December 2019. When President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law Friday, he also created the newest military service and the first new service since the US Air Force came into being in 1947. With his signature, the US Air Force Space Command was designated the United States Space Force, a step that White House officials are touting as a historic step. "The law states that Air Force Space Command will be re-designated the United States Space Force, that will happen immediately," Gen. John Raymond, the commander of US Space Command and Air Force Space Command, told reporters at the Pentagon Friday.
  5. ^ "The Battle Above, part two". CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Details of Space Mission Force now available from AF Space Command". AFSPC. 15 July 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  7. ^ Gruss, Mike (20 July 2016). "U.S. Air Force expands space warfare training". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Fact Sheet".
  9. ^ "Air Force Space Command". Air Force Space Command.
  10. ^ Brown, Peter J. (9 July 2009). "Mixed signals over Chinese missiles". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Future of USAF Space Command". Defense News. 30 September 2012. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Disaggregation in Space: A Strategy for National Security Space in an Era of Fiscal Austerity?". George Marshall Institute. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Space: Disruptive Challenges" (PDF). Air University. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  14. ^ "14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic)". Vandenberg Air Force Base website. United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  15. ^
  16. ^

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links

This page was last edited on 13 August 2020, at 10:56
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