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United States Space Force

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Space Force
United States Space Force logo.svg

Space Force Delta
Founded20 December 2019; 3 years ago (2019-12-20)
Country United States
TypeSpace force
  • 8,600 military personnel[1][2]
  • 77 spacecraft[3]
Part ofUnited States Armed Forces
Department of the Air Force
HeadquartersThe Pentagon
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.[4]
  • Semper Supra
  • "Always above"[5]
March"Semper Supra"[6]
Anniversaries20 December
EquipmentSee spacecraft and space systems

As U.S. Space Force (standard) (recruiting)
Commander-in-Chief President Joe Biden
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III
Chief of Space Operations Gen B. Chance Saltzman
Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen David D. Thompson
Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force CMSSF Roger A. Towberman
Delta, Globe, and Orbit

The United States Space Force (USSF) is the space service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and the world's only dedicated independent space force.[8] Along with the U.S. Air Force, the Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force, led by the secretary of the Air Force.[9] The military heads of the Space Force are the chief of space operations, who is one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and vice chief of space operations.

The Space Force is the smallest U.S. armed service, consisting of 8,600 military personnel.[1] The Space Force operates 77 spacecraft in total across various programs such as GPS, Space Fence, military satellite communications constellations, X-37B spaceplanes, U.S. missile warning system, U.S. space surveillance network, and the Satellite Control Network. Under the Goldwater–Nichols Act, the Space Force is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping space forces, which are then presented to the unified combatant commands, predominantly to United States Space Command, for operational employment.

The U.S. Space Force traces its roots to the beginning of the Cold War, with the first military space programs starting in 1945. In 1954, the Air Force established the Western Development Division, the world's first dedicated space organization, under General Bernard Schriever and unified its space forces under Air Force Space Command in 1982. U.S. space forces have participated in every U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War, most notably in the Persian Gulf War, often referred to as the first "space war."

The first discussion of a U.S. Space Force occurred under President Dwight Eisenhower's administration in 1958 and it was nearly established in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. The 2001 Space Commission argued for the creation of a Space Corps around 2007–2011, but due to the September 11 attacks and war on terror any plans were put on hold. On 20 December 2019, the United States Space Force Act was signed into law establishing the U.S. Space Force as the first new independent military service since the Army Air Forces were reorganized as the U.S. Air Force in 1947.

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As outlined in 10 U.S.C. § 9081 and originally introduced in the United States Space Force Act, the Space Force is organized, trained, and equipped to:

  1. Provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from, and to space;
  2. Conduct space operations; and
  3. Protect the interests of the United States in space.

The Department of Defense further defines the specified functions of the Space Force to:[10]

  1. Provide freedom of operation for the United States in, from, and to space.
  2. Provide prompt and sustained space operations.
  3. Protect the interests of the United States in space.
  4. Deter aggression in, from, and to space.
  5. Conduct space operations.

Cornerstone responsibilities and core competencies

On 10 August 2020, the Space Force released its capstone doctrine, Spacepower: Doctrine for Space Forces, further expanding on its enumerated missions and duties. In Spacepower, the Space Force defines its three cornerstone responsibilities of military space forces, which it articulates why spacepower is vital to U.S. prosperity and security.[11]

Three lasers emitting from the Starfire Optical Range
Three lasers emitting from the Starfire Optical Range
  1. Preserve freedom of action: Unfettered access to and freedom to operate in space is a vital national interest; it is the ability to accomplish all four components of national power – diplomatic, information, military, and economic – of a nation’s implicit or explicit space strategy. Military space forces fundamentally exist to protect, defend, and preserve this freedom of action.
  2. Enable Joint Lethality and Effectiveness: Space capabilities strengthen operations in the other domains of warfare and reinforce every Joint function – the US does not project or employ power without space. At the same time, military space forces must rely on military operations in the other domains to protect and defend space freedom of action. Military space forces operate as part of the closely integrated Joint Force across the entire conflict continuum in support of the full range of military operations.
  3. Provide Independent Options: A central tenet of military spacepower is the ability to independently achieve strategic effects. In this capacity, military spacepower is more than an adjunct to landpower, seapower, airpower, and cyberpower. Across the conflict continuum, military spacepower provides national leadership with independent military options that advance the nation’s prosperity and security. Military space forces achieve national objectives by projecting power in, from, to space.
Concept for a Space Force Rocket Cargo program conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations
Concept for a Space Force Rocket Cargo program conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations

The cornerstone responsibilities are executed through the five military spacepower core competencies:[12]

  1. Space Security: establishes and promotes stable conditions for the safe and secure access to space activities for civil, commercial, intelligence community, and multinational partners.
  2. Combat Power Projection: integrates defensive and offensive operations to maintain a desired level of freedom of action relative to an adversary. Combat Power Projection in concert with other competencies enhances freedom of action by deterring aggression or compelling an adversary to change behavior.
  3. Space Mobility and Logistics (SML): enables movement and support of military equipment and personnel in the space domain, from the space domain back to Earth, and to the space domain.
  4. Information Mobility: provides timely, rapid and reliable collection and transportation of data across the range of military operations in support of tactical, operational, and strategic decision making.
  5. Space Domain Awareness (SDA) encompasses the effective identification, characterization and understanding of any factor associated with the space domain that could affect space operations and thereby impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of our Nation.


Early military space development

Launch of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's Explorer 1, America's first satellite
Launch of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's Explorer 1, America's first satellite

Following the end of the World War II, each of the military services began to turn to space. General of the Army Henry H. Arnold, commander of the Army Air Forces identified spaceflight as a critical military capability, with each of the services developing parallel space and rocket programs.[13]

In 1954 the Air Force created the first dedicated space organization in the entire world, creating the Western Development Division under General Bernard Schriever.[14][15] The Army followed shortly after, establishing the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in 1955, led by General John Bruce Medaris and former German scientist Wernher von Braun. Both these organizations, along with the Naval Research Laboratory, were vital in developing the first American rockets and spacecraft.[16]

The launch of Sputnik 1 and the initial failure of the Naval Research Laboratory's Project Vanguard reinvigorated the military space program, with the Army successfully launching America's first satellite, Explorer 1 on a Juno 1 rocket. Sputnik also prompted a short-lived consolidation of military space under the Advanced Research Projects Agency. Despite concerns within the existing military services that the Advanced Research Project Agency would evolve into a U.S. Space Force, space authorities were returned to the Army, Navy, and Air Forces.[17]

However, the newly established National Aeronautics and Space Administration absorbed the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the Navy's Project Vanguard in 1959, leaving the Air Force mostly unscathed. In 1961, the Air Force was designated the military's executive agent for space, giving it leadership within the Department of Defense.[17]

Military space operations in the Cold War

Based on the Gemini spacecraft, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory was intended to serve as an orbital reconnaissance spacecraft
Based on the Gemini spacecraft, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory was intended to serve as an orbital reconnaissance spacecraft

While the Air Force had overall leadership in space, the Army and Navy still had space missions, with the Army and Navy responsible for operating elements of satellite communications systems and the Navy leading the development and operation of satellite navigation systems. Established in 1962 as the world's first military space operations command, the Navy Astronautics Group was created to operate the Navy's communication and navigation satellites.[18] The first military employment of space forces occurred during the Vietnam War, with the Air Force using its weather and communications satellites to support ground and air operations in theater. Early military spacraft included the Air Force's Defense Satellite Communications System, Vela nuclear dentation detection satellites, the Missile Defense Alarm System, and the Navy's Tranit and Timation navigation satellites [17] Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy were strong advocates of the United States' space programs – both military and civil. During President Kennedy's We choose to go to the Moon speech, he declared:

"Space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man. And only if the United States occupies a position of preeminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theatre of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space, any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea."[19]

The X-20 Dyna Soar was intended to be the Air Force's first spaceplane
The X-20 Dyna Soar was intended to be the Air Force's first spaceplane

Each of the military services also provided significant support to NASA's civil space program, with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's Project Adam and Air Force's Man in Space Soonest programs forming the basis for NASA's Project Mercury. The Army and Air Force developed all of NASA's pre-Saturn V space launch vehicles, with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency designing the Redstone and Saturn I, while the Air Force repurposed the Atlas.[20] The Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy provided all of NASA's early astronauts and led astronaut rescue and recovery missions. The Air Force also provided range support for NASA launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[17]

Concerned by Soviet orbital flights, the Air Force strongly pushed for a crewed military spaceflight program. General Curtis LeMay drew parallels between space operations in the 1960s and air operations in World War I, describing how airplanes quickly evolved from peaceful chivalric, unarmed reconnaissance flights to combat efforts designed to destroy enemy air superiority and that it would be naïve to believe that the same trends were not expected to be seen and prepared for in space. Although the Air Force made significant progress towards the development of the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar spaceplane, Manned Orbiting Laboratory, and Blue Gemini, ultimately political opposition from the Department of Defense prevented them from being operationally fielded.[17]

Separation of the Vela 5A and Vela 5B nuclear detonation detection satellites.
Separation of the Vela 5A and Vela 5B nuclear detonation detection satellites.

Although unsuccessful in fielding human military spacecraft, the Air Force and Army successfully led the development of anti-satellite weapons. The Air Force's Project SAINT was an early satellite inspector, which also had "satellite neutralization" capabilities, however it was canceled in 1962 by the Defense Department when detailes were leaked to The New York Times.[21] As the lead service for missile defense, the Army also developed the Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile to have satellite interception capability. On 23 May 1963, a Nike Zeus launched from Kwajalein Atoll successfully intercepted a Agena-D target vehicle and was put on ready alert until 1964.[22] The Army's Nike Zeus ASAT was replaced by the Air Force's Program 437, which used nuclear-tipped Thor missile to intercept satellites, until the program was deactivated in 1975.[17]

The Strategic Defense Initiative and Persian Gulf War

A Defense Support Program missile warning spacecraft deploys from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-44 mission
A Defense Support Program missile warning spacecraft deploys from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-44 mission

Dissatisfied with the current status of military space operations within the Air Force, Representative Ken Kramer introduced a resolution to rename the U.S. Air Force to the U.S. Aerospace Force to force a new focus on space and rumors spread that President Ronald Reagan would announce the establishment of a U.S. Space Force. These two developments spurred Air Force leadership into action, establishing Air Force Space Command in 1982 to consolidate its space forces under a single major command.[17] In 1985, President Regan created United States Space Command as a unified combatant command for space, with Air Force Space Command as its primary service provider. Naval Space Command was established 1985 and the Army Space Command was created in 1988 to serve as their service components to U.S. Space Command.[23]

The establishment of U.S. Space Command, Air Force Space Command, and the Strategic Defense Initiative by President Regan led to a renaissance of military space operations. In September 1985, a U.S. Air Force F-15 conducted a test launch of the ASM-135 anti-satellite missile, destroying the Solwind satellite. The Air Force and Navy proceeded to deploy modernized satellites, such as the Air Force's Global Positioning System, Milstar communications satellite, the Defense Support Program missile warning constellation, and the Navy's Fleet Satellite Communications system. [24]

An F-15A Eagle launches an ASM-135 ASAT, intercepting the Solwind satellite on 13 September 1985
An F-15A Eagle launches an ASM-135 ASAT, intercepting the Solwind satellite on 13 September 1985

The Persian Gulf War proved to be a decisive moment for military space operations, with space forces providing critical tactical support to coalition land, air, and naval forces. Over sixty satellites provided 90% of theater communications and command and control for an multinational army of 500,000 troops, weather support for mission planners, early warning of Iraqi Scud missile launches, and satellite navigation for air and land forces moving across a featureless desert.[17][25] This critical degree of support led to the Persian Gulf War being coined "the first Space War."[26]

Despite the decisive role played by space forces during the Persian Gulf War, there were a number of Air Force generals who sought to merge air and space into a seamless aerospace continuum, to the determent of space. This drew the ire of prominent congressmen, with Senator Bob Smith, in particular, proposing an independent space force. Congress established the establishing the commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization, better known as the Space Comission, to investigate the matter.[27]

Chaired by Donald Rumsfeld, the Space Commission released its report in 2001. Key recommendations included no longer exclusively assigning pilots to be commander of U.S. Space Command. The commission noted that fewer than 20% of top space leaders had a space background, with the majority being drawn from the pilot, Army Air Defense Artillery, or nuclear and missile operations and that the average individual had only spent 2.5 years of their careers in space positions. Ultimately, the Space Commission recommended the establishment of a separate Space Force as a military branch in the long term, with the establishment of a Space Corps, analogous to the Army Air Forces within the U.S. Air Force in the between 2007 and 2011.[28]

Space Force independence

Despite the recommendations of the Space Commission, the September 11 attacks and Global War on Terror prevented the continued evolution of military space forces. To make way for the establishment of U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Space Command was shut down and its functions were merged into United States Strategic Command in 2002.[29] Naval Space Command was shut down shortly prior to U.S. Space Command, transferring the Naval Space Surveillance System to Air Force Space Command.[30] Army Space Command was first subordinated to Army Strategic Defense Command in 1992, with Army Space Command still existing under the new Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, renamed Army Space and Missile Defense Command in 1997.[31] Certain Space Commission recommendations were implemented, such as transferring the Space and Missile Systems Center from Air Force Materiel Command to Air Force Space Command.[32]

A SM-3 launches from the USS Lake Erie as part of Operation Burnt Frost
A SM-3 launches from the USS Lake Erie as part of Operation Burnt Frost

Air Force Space Command provided direct support to Operation Enduring Freedom, enabling satellite communications, global positioning system enhancements, and deployed personnel to support counterterrorism operations. For Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force Space Command deployed space operators to forward operating bases in the Middle East and the Defense Satellite Communications System provided 80% of bandwidth for allied forces in theater, while 85% of Milstar communications capacity was directed towards support of tactical forces.[33]

Following the inactivation of U.S. Space Command in 2002, Russia and China began developing sophisticated on-orbit capabilities and an array of counter-space weapons. In particular, China conducted the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test, destroying its Fengyun spacecraft, which, according to NASA, created 2,841 high-velocity debris items, a larger amount of dangerous space junk than any other space event in history.[34][35] On 29 August 2019, United States Space Command was reestablished as a geographic combatant command.[36] In 2008, U.S. Strategic Command conducted Operation Burnt Frost to destroy a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, before its toxic hydrazine tank could reenter and cause potential harm to human safety, with a RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 launched from the USS Lake Erie.[37][38]

Operation Burnt Frost missile launch and satellite interception

Growing impatient with the Air Force, Representatives Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Mike Rogers (R-AL) unveiled a bipartisan proposal in the House of Representatives to establish the United States Space Corps as a separate military service within the Department of the Air Force to give space a greater cultural focus and help develop a leaner and faster space acquisitions system.[39] The proposal passed in the House of Representatives, but was cut from the final bill in negotiations with the U.S. Senate.[40]The Space Corps proposal was, in large part, spurred on by the development of the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force and the Russian Space Forces.[41]

Legislative provisions for the Space Force were included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on 20 December 2019. The Space Force was established as the sixth armed service branch, with Air Force General John W. Raymond, the commander of Air Force Space Command and U.S. Space Command, becoming the first chief of space operations.[42] On 14 January 2020, Raymond was officially sworn in as chief of space operations by Vice President Mike Pence.[43]

The sixth service

An Atlas V conducts the first U.S. Space Force space launch on 26 March 2020
An Atlas V conducts the first U.S. Space Force space launch on 26 March 2020

Following independence, all of Air Force Space Command's 16,000 active duty and civilian airmen were transferred to the U.S. Space Force, including the 21st Space Wing, 30th Space Wing, 45th Space Wing, 50th Space Wing, 460th Space Wing, and the 614th Air Operations Center.[44] Wings and groups were replaced by deltas in 2020 and the Space Force's field commands were activated in 2020 and 2021.[45] In 2020, the first Air Force space bases were renamed to Space Force bases.[46] In September 2020, the Space Force and NASA signed a memorandum of understanding formally acknowledging the joint role of both agencies. This new memorandum replaced a similar document signed in 2006 between NASA and Air Force Space Command.[47]

General Jay Raymond was followed into the service by on 3 April 2020 by Chief Master Sergeant Roger A. Towberman, who became the Space Force's first enlisted member and senior enlisted advisor of the Space Force, and 86 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets who became the first Space Force lieutenants on 18 April 2020.[48][49] The Space Force also gained its first astronaut, with Colonel Michael S. Hopkins, the commander of SpaceX Crew-1, swearing into the Space Force from the International Space Station on 18 December 2020.[50][51][52]

U.S. drone footage of the Al Asad Airbase missile barrage.

The Space Force's first combat operations as a new service included providing early warning of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force missile strikes against U.S. troops at Al Asad Airbase on 7 January 2020 through the 2nd Space Warning Squadron's Space Based Infrared System.[53] The Space Force also monitored Russian Space Forces spacecraft which had been tailing U.S. government satellites.[54]

One of the major reasons for creating the Space Force was consolidating military space activities across the Department of Defense. The Space Training and Readiness Delta (Provisional) was established in 2020 to bring over the remaining operational Air Force space activities spread across Air Education and Training Command and Air Combat Command, while Space Systems Command brought over the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division in 2021.[55][56] The Space Force accepted a record number of interservice transfers from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force.[57] Additionally, in 2022 the Space Force accepted the transfer of the Naval Satellite Operations Center from the U.S. Navy and the Army's Satellite Operations Brigade, putting satellite communications under a single service for the first time.[58][59] In 2023, the Space Force assumed responsibility for the Army's Joint Tactical Ground Station, putting all missile warning under the Space Force.[60]


U.S. Space Force patch shapes, 2021
U.S. Space Force patch shapes, 2021

The Space Force's field organizations consist of three different echelons of command:[61]

Each of the three major field commands has a distinctive color which is share by its subordinate units. Space Operations Command is platinum, Space Systems Command is gold, and Space Training and Readiness Command is Cannes Blue.

Headquarters Space Force

Organization of the United States Space Force within the Department of Defense
Organization of the United States Space Force within the Department of Defense

The U.S. Space Force is organized under the Department of the Air Force, alongside the U.S. Air Force. Civilian leadership is provided by the Secretary of the Air Force and under secretary of the Air Force. The most important assistant secretary of the Air Force for the Space Force is the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, who is the only assistant secretary of the Air Force focused entirely on space and serves as the Space Force's service acqusition executive.[63]

Military leadership is provided by the chief of space operations and vice chief of space operations, who are advised by the chief master sergeant of the Space Force.[64][65] Headquarters Space Force, also known as the Office of the Chief of Space Operations or Space Staff, serves as the service's highest staff and headquarters element, is located at the Pentagon. It is led by the chief of space operations and the vice chief of space operations.[66][67]

Title Office Current holder
Seal of the United States Department of the Air Force.svg
Department of the Air Force
Flag of the United States Secretary of the Air Force.svg
Secretary of the Air Force
SecAF Frank Kendall III
Flag of the Under Secretary of the Air Force.svg
Under Secretary of the Air Force
USecAF Kristyn E. Jones
SAF AQ Logo.png
Flag of the General Counsel and Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force.png
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics)
SAF/AQ Andrew P. Hunter
Seal of SAFFM.jpg
Flag of the General Counsel and Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force.png
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management & Comptroller)
SAF/FM Kristyn E. Jones
SAF-IE Logo ASAF Round.png
Flag of the General Counsel and Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force.png
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Installations, Environment & Energy)
SAF/IE Ravi Chaudhary
Flag of the General Counsel and Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force.png
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Manpower & Reserve Affairs)
SAF/MR Alex Wagner
Seal of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration.png
Flag of the General Counsel and Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force.png
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Space Acquisition & Integration)
SAF/SQ Frank Calvelli
Patch of the Office of the Chief of Space Operations.png
Headquarters Space Force
Space Staff Identification Badge.png
Office of the Chief of Space Operations emblem (2).png
Flag of the Chief of Space Operations.svg
Chief of space operations
CSO Gen B. Chance Saltzman
Office of the Vice Chief of Space Operations.png
Flag of the Vice Chief of Space Operations.svg
Vice chief of space operations
VCSO Gen David D. Thompson
Flag of the Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force.svg
Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force
CMSSF CMSSF Roger A. Towberman
USSF Director of Staff.png
Flag of a United States Space Force lieutenant general.svg
Director of staff
SF/DS Lt Gen Nina M. Armagno
Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Personnel patch.png
Flag of the United States Senior Executive Service.svg
Deputy chief of space operations for human capital / Chief Human Capital Officer
S1 Katharine Kelley
Flag of a United States Space Force major general.svg
Deputy chief of space operations for intelligence
S2 Maj Gen Gregory Gagnon
Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear emblem.png
Flag of a United States Space Force lieutenant general.svg
Deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber, and nuclear / Chief Operations Officer
S3/4/6/7/10 Lt Gen DeAnna M. Burt
Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Strategy, Plans, Programs, Requirements, and Analysis emblem.png
Flag of a United States Space Force lieutenant general.svg
Deputy chief of space operations for strategy, plans, programs, requirements, and analysis / Chief Strategy and Resourcing Officer
S5/8 Lt Gen Philip Garrant
Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Technology and Innovation emblem.png
Flag of the United States Senior Executive Service.svg
Deputy chief of space operations for technology and innovation / Chief Technology and Innovation Officer
S9 Lisa A. Costa

Field commands, Space Force elements, and direct reporting units

Name Mission Headquarters
Field commands
Emblem of the Space Operations Command.svg
Space Operations Command (SpOC) U.S. Space Command component field command; Space Force operations, cyber, and intelligence command Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado
Space Systems Command emblem.png
Space Systems Command (SSC) Engineering, acquisitions, and launch command Los Angeles Air Force Base, California
Space Training and Readiness Command emblem.png
Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) Space training, test and evaluation, and doctrine development command Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado
U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific emblem.png
United States Space Forces Indo-Pacific (SPACEFOR-INDOPAC) U.S. Indo-Pacific Command component field command Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam, Hawai'i
United States Space Forces Korea emblem.png
United States Space Forces Korea (SPACEFOR-KOR)[68] U.S. Forces Korea component field commdand (suboridnated to SPACEFOR-INDOPAC) Osan Air Base, Korea
United States Space Forces Central emblem.png
United States Space Forces Central (SPACEFOR-CENT) U.S. Central Command component field command MacDill Air Force Base, Florida
Space Force elements[69]
Space Force Element to the National Reconnaissance Office emblem.png
Space Force Element, National Reconnaissance Office (SFELM NRO) National Reconnaissance Office Space Force component[70] Chantilly, Virginia
Direct reporting units[69]
Space Rapid Capabilities Office logo.png
Space Rapid Capabilities Office Expedited research, development and delivery of space capabilities. Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico
US Space Development Agency logo.jpg
Space Development Agency Employment of the National Defense Space Architecture through commercial research, development and procurement The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
Space Warfighting Analysis Center emblem (2).png
Space Warfighting Analysis Center Wargaming, force design Washington, D.C.

Deltas and program executive offices

Name Function Headquarters
Space Operations Command
Emblem of Space Delta 2.png
Space Delta 2 Space domain awareness Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of Space Delta 3.svg
Space Delta 3 Space electromagnetic warfare Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of Space Delta 4.png
Space Delta 4 Missile warning Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of Space Delta 5.png
Space Delta 5 Combined Space Operations Center Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
Emblem of Space Delta 6.png
Space Delta 6 Cyberspace operations Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of Space Delta 7.png
Space Delta 7 Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of Space Delta 8.png
Space Delta 8 Satellite communication and navigation warfare Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of Space Delta 9.svg
Space Delta 9 Orbital warfare Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
Space Delta 15 emblem.png
Space Delta 15 National Space Defense Center Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
Space Delta 18 emblem.png
Space Delta 18 National Space Intelligence Center Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
Emblem of the Peterson-Schriever Garrison.svg
Space Base Delta 1 Mission and medical support Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado
Emblem of the Buckley Garrison.svg
Space Base Delta 2 Mission and medical support Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado
Space Systems Command
Assured Access To Space Directorate.png
Assured Access to Space Directorate Space mobility and logistics
Military Communications & Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Directorate Military satellite communications and positioning, navigation, and timing acquisition and sustainment
Space Sensing Directorate emblem.png
Space Sensing Directorate Military space sensing acquisition
Battle Management Command, Control, and Communications Directorate.png
Battle Management Command, Control, and Communications Directorate Command and control / Satellite Control Network modernization
Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power Directorate.png
Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power Directorate Space domain awareness and combat power acquisition
Space Launch Delta 30 emblem.png
Space Launch Delta 30 Space launch, Western Range administration, and mission and medical support Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
Space Launch Delta 45 emblem.png
Space Launch Delta 45 Space launch, Eastern Range administration, and mission and medical support Patrick Space Force Base, Florida
Space Base Delta 3 emblem.png
Space Base Delta 3 Mission and medical support Los Angeles Air Force Base, California
Space Training and Readiness Command
Space Delta 1 emblem.png
Space Delta 1 Space training Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
Space Delta 10 emblem.png
Space Delta 10 Space doctrine and wargaming United States Air Force Academy, Colorado
Space Delta 11 emblem.png
Space Delta 11 Space range and aggressor Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
Space Delta 12 emblem.png
Space Delta 12 Space test and evaluation Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado
Space Delta 13 emblem.png
Space Delta 13 Space education Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama

Relationships with other space organizations

Department of the Air Force and U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Space Force derives a significant degree of support from the Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Air Force. The Space Force only consist of operators and acquisitions, relying on the Air Force to provide airmen in support or other niche specialties. Air Force Materiel Command provides major command support to airmen assigned to the Space Force. The Space Force and Air Force continue to share a number of different organizations, such as the United States Air Force Academy and Air Force Research Laboratory.[71]

The Air Force Research Laboratory's Starfire Optical Range, used for real-time high-fidelity tracking and imaging of satellites
The Air Force Research Laboratory's Starfire Optical Range, used for real-time high-fidelity tracking and imaging of satellites

Following the United States Space Force's establishment, calls have been made for the Department of the Air Force to rename itself the Department of the Air and Space Forces to acknowledge the Space Force, similar to calls made for the Department of the Navy to rename itself the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. SpaceNews reported that a proposed name change was considered in 2018 and in 2019 the Air Force Association also called for renaming the department.[72][73] In 2022, the Air Force Association renamed itself the Air & Space Forces Association, internally acting on its proposal to reflect the Space Force in the organization's name.[74] In a 2021 article in the Space Force Journal, two Space Force officers also proposed a name change for the department.[75]

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The U.S. Space Force and NASA have a long history of cooperation, as the lead government agencies for military and civil spaceflight. The Space Force's predecessors in the Air Force, Navy, and Army provided NASA with its early space launch vehicles and most of its astronauts.[76]

The Space Force's first two astronauts, Colonel Michael S. Hopkins (left) and Colonel Nick Hague (right)

The Space Force hosts NASA launch operations at Vandenberg Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.[77][78] NASA occasionally hosts U.S. Space Force heavy launches out of Kennedy Space Center.[79] The Space Force continues to support NASA's human spaceflight missions with range support of Space Launch Delta 45 and tracks threats to the International Space Station and other crewed spacecraft.[80][81]

The Space Force and NASA partner on matters such as space domain awareness and planetary defense.[82] Space Force members can be NASA astronauts, with Colonel Michael S. Hopkins, the commander of SpaceX Crew-1, commissioned into the Space Force from the International Space Station on 18 December 2020.[50][51][52]

National Reconnaissance Office

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is a Department of Defense agency and a member of the United States Intelligence Community, responsible for designing, building, launching, and maintaining intelligence satellites.[83] The Space Force executes National Reconnaissance Office space launches and consists of 40% of the agency's personnel.[84][85][86] Proposals have been put forward, including by the Air Force Association and retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula, to merge the NRO into the Space Force, transforming it into a Space Force Intelligence, Reconnaissance, and Surveillance Command and consolidating the entire national security space apparatus in the Space Force.[87][88][89]

Launch of the NROL-44 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Launch of the NROL-44 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

The USSF's Space Systems Command (SSC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office, manages the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, which uses government and contract spacecraft to launch sensitive government payloads.[90][91] NSSL supports both the USSF and NRO.[91] NRO director Scolese has characterized his agency as critical to American space dominance and the Space Force, stating that NRO provides "unrivaled situational awareness and intelligence to the best imagery and signals data on the planet."[90] Additionally, in August 2021, former NRO deputy director Lt Gen Michael Guetlein became commander of Space Systems Command.[92]

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Space Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) jointly operate the military's weather satellites.[93] Additionally, NOAA's Office of Space Commerce is responsible for civilian space situational awareness and space traffic management. [94]

The decision to transition space traffic management from the military to the Department of Commerce was made due to the significant growth in commercial spacecraft and to mirror how the Federal Aviation Administration, rather than the U.S. Air Force, handles air traffic management.[95]

Personnel and culture


The Delta Symbol

The Delta Symbol - An Origin Story

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists derived the rocket equation, which made spaceflight possible. In this equation, represents the change in velocity. In the 20th century, the Delta is used to represent a stylized aircraft, missile, or arrow. In 1940, the United States Army Air Forces 36th Fighter Group used the delta on its shield, which is still used by the U.S. Air Force 36th Fighter Wing.[96]

After World War II, the delta began to be used by the space program, appearing on the joint U.S. Air Force-NASA X-15. In 1962, the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division became the first of a long line of international military space organizations to use the delta, which, in the Air Force Space Command shield represented the Air Force's upward thrust into space and the launch vehicles used to place satellites into orbit. This delta later evolved into the U.S. Space Force's seal and its logo in 2020, becoming the basic shape for field command and delta emblems.[97]


A Space Force specialist with the 4th Space Operations Squadron pulls armed security
A Space Force specialist with the 4th Space Operations Squadron pulls armed security

Space Force service members have the title of Guardians, similar to how members of the U.S. Marine Corps are called Marines and members of the Air Force are called Airmen. The title of guardian has a long history in military space, tracing its heritage to Air Force Space Command's 1983 motto Guardians of the High Frontier.[98] Prior to the announcement of Guardian as the service title on 18 December 2020, members of the Space Force were referred to as space professionals.[99]

Semper Supra

The Space Force's motto, Semper Supra – "Always Above."[100] It mirrors the mottos of the Marine Corps (Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful) and Coast Guard (Semper Paratus – Always Ready).[101][102] The Space Force's service song takes its name from the motto.[103]

Specialties and badges

Space Operations


Cyberspace Operations

Acquisition and engineering
  • 13A – Astronaut
  • 13S – Space Operations Officer
  • 17S – Cyberspace Effects Operations Officer
  • 5S – Space Systems Operator
  • 5C – Cyberspace Operations

Space operators are the largest career field in the Space Force and comprise much of its senior leadership.[104] Space operations officers are responsible for leading the Space Force's space operations forces. Space operations officers (13S) are responsible for planning and leading space combat operations across orbital warfare, space electromagnetic warfare, space battle management, and space access and sustainment spacepower disciplines. They also formulate space operations policy, coordinate space operations, and plan, organize, and direct space operations programs.[105][106] Enlisted Space Systems Operators (5S) are responsible for conducting orbital warfare, space electromagnetic warfare, space battle management, and space access and sustainment operations.[107][108] Space operations officers and enlisted space systems operators are awarded the Space Operations Badge after completing the 533rd Training Squadron's Undergraduate Space Training program at Vandenberg Space Force Base, with follow-on education provided by the 319th Combat Training Squadron and National Security Space Institute.[109]

Senior observer badge with the astronaut device as awarded to Space Force astronauts
Senior observer badge with the astronaut device as awarded to Space Force astronauts

The Space Force currently has two astronauts (13A) who flew as Space Force officers on assignment to NASA. Space Force astronauts command, operate, and pilot crewed spacecraft, accomplish on-orbit duties on the International Space Station or other spacecraft, operate Department of Defense payloads, and provide spaceflight consultation to the Department of Defense and other government agencies. Space Force astronauts must complete NASA Astronaut Candidate (ASCAN) training at Johnson Space Center. Once completing a spaceflight, Space Force astronauts are awarded the observer badge with astronaut rating. [110]

Intelligence officers (14N) lead the Space Force's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance enterprise, performing intelligence activities and analysis.[111] They lead enlisted All Source Intelligence Analysts (5I0), Geospatial Intelligence Analysts (5I1), Signals Intelligence Analysts (5I2), and Fusion Analysts (5I4), and Targeting Analysts (5I8).[112][113][114][115][116][117] Intelligence officers and enlisted analysts are awarded their intelligence badge after completing intelligence training with the 533rd Training Squadron Detachment 1 at Goodfellow Air Force Base, with follow-on education provided by the 319th Combat Training Squadron and National Security Space Institute. [118]

Colonel Michael S. Hopkins became the U.S. Space Force's first astronaut when he transfers from the U.S. Air Force on the International Space Station on 18 December 2020
Colonel Michael S. Hopkins became the U.S. Space Force's first astronaut when he transfers from the U.S. Air Force on the International Space Station on 18 December 2020

Cyberspace effects operations officers (17S) are responsible for operating cyberspace weapons systems, satellite communications systems, and commanding cyber crews.[119] They lead enlisted Cyberspace Operations guardians.[120] Cyberspace effects operations officers and enlisted cyberspace operators are awarded the cyberspace operator badge after completing Undergraduate Cyber Training with the Air Force's 81st Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, with follow-on education provided by the 319th Combat Training Squadron and National Security Space Institute.[121]

Acquisition and engineering are officer only career fields within the Space Force. Specific developmental engineers (62E) include aeronautical engineers (62EXA), astronautical engineers (62EXB), computer systems engineers (62EXC), electrical/electronic engineer (62EXE), mechanical engineer (62EXH) and the human factors engineer/human systems integration (62EXI). Space Force engineers graduate from the Defense Acquisition University and the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Engineer course, or a comparable program.[122][123][124][125][126][127] Acquisition managers (63A) are responsible for the Space Force's acquisition process.[128]

Spacepower disciplines

Members of the 4th Space Operations Squadron Mobile Operations Flight conducting armed convoy operations
Members of the 4th Space Operations Squadron Mobile Operations Flight conducting armed convoy operations

The U.S. Space Force has seven core spacepower disciplines which its personnel gain experience in:[129]

  1. Orbital Warfare: Knowledge of orbital maneuver as well as offensive and defensive fires to preserve freedom of access to the domain. Skill to ensure United States and coalition space forces can continue to provide capability to the Joint Force while denying that same advantage to the adversary.
  2. Space Electromagnetic Warfare: Knowledge of spectrum awareness, maneuver within the spectrum, and non-kinetic fires within the spectrum to deny adversary use of vital links. Skill to manipulate physical access to communication pathways and awareness of how those pathways contribute to enemy advantage.
  3. Space Battle Management: Knowledge of how to orient to the space domain and skill in making decisions to preserve mission, deny adversary access, and ultimately ensure mission accomplishment. Ability to identify hostile actions and entities, conduct combat identification, target, and direct action in response to an evolving threat environment.
  4. Space Access and Sustainment – Knowledge of processes, support, and logistics required to maintain and prolong operations in the space domain. Ability to resource, apply, and leverage spacepower in, from, and to the space domain.
  5. Military Intelligence – Knowledge to conduct intelligence-led, threat-focused operations based on the insights. Ability to leverage the broader Intelligence Community to ensure military spacepower has the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities needed to defend the space domain.
  6. Engineering and Acquisition – Knowledge that ensures military spacepower has the best capabilities in the world to defend the space domain. Ability to form science, technology, and acquisition partnerships with other national security space organizations, commercial entities, Allies, and academia to ensure the warfighters are properly equipped.
  7. Cyber Operations – Knowledge to defend the global networks upon which military spacepower is vitally dependent. Ability to employ cyber security and cyber defense of critical space networks and systems. Skill to employ future offensive capabilities.

Rank structure


The first 86 Space Force lieutenants being commissioned from the United States Air Force Academy on 18 April 2020.
The first 86 Space Force lieutenants being commissioned from the United States Air Force Academy on 18 April 2020.

Officers are the leaders of the U.S. Space Force and are responsible for planning operations and managing personnel. Space Force officers enter the service through three different paths: graduating from the United States Air Force Academy, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, or Air Force Officer Training School.[130]

The premier commissioning route for Space Force officers is through the U.S. Air Force Academy, a public university and military academy. Approximately ~10% of each class commissions as U.S. Space Force officers, with the remainder entering into the U.S. Air Force.[131] Space Delta 13, Detachment 1 is responsible for providing Space Force training, immersion, and mentorship to cadets. The Air Force Academy has a long history with Air Force space, establishing the world's first Department of Astronautics in 1958 and the Cadet Space Operations Squadron, which operates the FalconSAT satellites, in 1997.[132][133][134][135] Additional space programs, such as the Azimuth program, i5 Squadron and Blue Horizon rocketry club have stood up and as of 2023, the Air Force Academy offers two space majors, a space warfighting minor, and 29 space courses across all its academic departments.[136] On 18 April 2020, the Air Force Academy commissioned 86 officers into the Space Force, becoming the first group of individuals to enter the service after the first chief of space operations, General Jay Raymond, and the senior enlisted advisor of the Space Force, Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman.[137]

The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, considered the premier commissioning source for Space Force officers.
The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, considered the premier commissioning source for Space Force officers.

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program is offered at 1,100 colleges and universities. Like the Air Force Academy, it commissions officers directly into either the Air Force or Space Force.[138] The Air Force Officer Training School is the final path to commission into the Space Force, graduating its first two Space Force officers on 16 October 2020 and its first all-Space Force flight graduating on 17 March 2023.[139][140]

The Space Force partners with Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to provide Intermediate Developmental Education and Senior Developmental Education.[141] Additional educational opportunities for officers include the 319th Combat Training Squadron, National Security Space Institute, Air Force Institute of Technology, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, the Acquisition Instructor Course, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, the Space Test Course, and Air University's School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.[142][143][144][145][146]

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Uniformed services pay grade Special grade O-10 O-9 O-8 O-7 O-6 O-5 O-4 O-3 O-2 O-1 Officer candidate/Cadet
 United States Space Force[147]
US Space-force O10.svg
US Space-force O9.svg
US Space-force O8.svg
US Space-force O7.svg
US Space-force O6 (interim).svg
US Space-force O5 (interim).svg
US Space-force O4 (interim).svg
US Space-force O3 (interim).svg
US Space-force O2 (interim).svg
US Space-force O1 (interim).svg
(Various insignia)
General Lieutenant general Major general Brigadier general Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain First lieutenant Second lieutenant Cadet / Officer trainee


Vice chief of space operations, General David D. Thompson swears in the first four enlisted Space Force recruits on 20 October 2020
Vice chief of space operations, General David D. Thompson swears in the first four enlisted Space Force recruits on 20 October 2020

Enlisted members participate in and support operations. Space Force enlisted members complete Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio. Space Force Basic Military Training is identical to Air Force Basic Military Training, with the addition of Space Force-specific curriculum.[148] On 20 October 2020, the first four individuals enlisted into the Space Force and on 10 December 2020, the first seven enlisted members to enter the Space Force graduated from Basic Military Training.[149][150] In May 2022, the Space Force started running its own all-Guardian Basic Military Training to reinforce Space Force culture.[151]

The first seven enlisted guardians graduate from Basic Military Training on 10 December 2020
The first seven enlisted guardians graduate from Basic Military Training on 10 December 2020

Space Force enlisted members are enrolled in the Community College of the Air Force, earning an associate in applied science degree.[152] Professional military education is conducted at Space Training and Readiness Command's Forrest L. Vosler Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.[153] Other educational opportunities for enlisted members include the 319th Combat Training Squadron, National Security Space Institute,  Advanced Instructor Course and the Space Test Course.[154][155]

The Space Force's enlisted rank design is centered on a hexagon, representing the Space Force's status as the sixth military service in the Armed Forces. The horizontal stripes for Specialist 2, 3, and 4 were inspired by an early proposal for Air Force enlisted ranks known as "Vandenberg stripes." The delta represents the Space Force. The specialist stripes represent terra firma, the solid foundation of skills upon which the Space Force is built. Noncommissioned officer insignia feature traditional chevrons and the "Delta, Globe, and Orbit," representing the totality of the Space Force. Finally, senior noncommissioned officer insignia are topped with "orbital chevrons," representing low earth orbit for master sergeants, medium earth orbit for senior master sergeants, and geosynchronous orbit for chief master sergeants. These orbital chevrons signify the higher levels of responsibility and willingness to explore and innovate placed upon senior noncommissioned officers. Finally, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force is represented by a "Delta, Globe, and Orbit" in a hexagonal wreath.[156]


Air Force Mess Dress Uniform (interim) Service Dress Uniform
Class "A"
Service Uniform
Class "B"
Air Force Service Dress Uniform (interim) OCP Uniform Physical Training Uniform
Space Force insignia worn on Air Force uniforms
Space Force insignia worn on Air Force uniforms

The Space Force is currently in the process of developing its unique mess dress, service dress, and physical training uniforms.[158] In the interim period, guardians wear the Air Force Mess Dress, Air Force Service Dress, and Air Force Service uniforms with the following modifications:[159]

  • Space Force insignia on the coat/shirt
  • Replaced "Hap Arnold Star & Wings" buttons with "Delta, Globe, & Orbit" buttons
  • Replaced Air Force Great Seal of the United States service cap badges with Space Force Delta, Globe, and Orbit service cap badges
  • Replaced Air Force nametag with Space Force hexagonal nametag
  • Space Force enlisted rank worn in place of Air Force enlisted ranks (enlisted only)
  • Replaced Circle U.S. lapel insignia with Hexagonal U.S. insignia (enlisted only)

The primary Space Force uniform is the OCP Uniform, adopted from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. The Space Force uses unique "space blue" thread for ranks and badges, wears a full color flag on the left sleeve, and wears full color patches.[160]

Space Force cadets in Air Force Academy parade dress with their platinum sashes
Space Force cadets in Air Force Academy parade dress with their platinum sashes

The Space Force's distinctive blue and gray service dress uniform was unveiled at the Air & Space Forces Association's 2021 Air, Space, and Cyber conference. The dark blue was taken from the Space Force's seal and represents the vastness of outer space, while the six buttons represent that the U.S. Space Force is the sixth armed service.[161] The Space Force's Physical Training Uniform was unveiled in September 2021. As of April 2023, the Space Force stated that the Physical Training Uniform would be available by early 2024 and that the Service Dress Uniform would be available by late 2025.[162]

Space Force cadets at the Air Force Academy wear the same uniform as Air Force cadets; however, in their distinctive blue and white parade dress uniforms they wear a platinum sash in place of the gold sash worn by Air Force cadets.[163]

Awards and decorations

Ribbons for the proposed Space Force Good Conduct Medal (top) and Guardian of the Year Ribbon (bottom).

As part of the United States Department of the Air Force, the United States Space Force and United States Air Force share the same awards and decorations or same variations of awards and decorations.[164]

On 16 November 2020, the Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall III renamed the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Air Force Recognition Ribbon, Air Force Overseas Ribbons, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Award, and the Air Force Training Ribbon to replace "Air Force" with "Air and Space" to include the Space Force. He also eliminated Air Force from the Air Force Combat Action Medal and renamed the Air Force Special Duty Ribbon to the Developmental Special Duty Ribbon.[165]

The Space Force is current in the process of developing a Space Force Good Conduct Medal to replace the Air Force Good Conduct Medal for enlisted members.[166] Congress has also debated changing the Airman's Medal, awarded for non-combat heroism, to the Air and Space Force Medal, mirroring the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.[167]


Unit awards

Presidental Unit Citation Gallant Unit Citation Meritorious Unit Award Air and Space Outstanding Unit Award Air and Space Organizational Excellence Award

Campaign, expeditionary, and service awards


Continental United States

Installations and locations in the contiguous United States.

U.S. Space Force installations and locations within the contiguous United States
Name Location State Space Base/Launch Delta or primary unit emblem Space Base/Launch Deta or primary unit Major units
Buckley Space Force Base  Aurora Colorado Space Base Delta 2
Peterson Space Force Base Colorado Springs Colorado Space Base Delta 1
Schriever Space Force Base Colorado Springs Colorado Space Base Delta 1
Los Angeles Air Force Base El Segundo California Space Base Delta 3 Space Systems Command
Patrick Space Force Base Satellite Beach Florida Space Launch Delta 45 Air Force Technical Applications Center
Vandenberg Space Force Base Lompoc California Space Launch Delta 30
Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Cape Canaveral Florida Space Launch Delta 45
Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Space Base Delta 1
Cape Cod Space Force Station Sagamore Massachusetts 6th Space Warning Squadron
Cavalier Space Force Station Cavalier North Dakota 10th Space Warning Squadron
New Boston Space Force Station Hillsborough County New Hampshire 23rd Space Operations Squadron


U.S. Space Force installations and locations outside of the contiguous United States.

Spacecraft and space systems


U.S. Space Force spacecraft
Name Spacecraft image Mission Operator Number
Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Satellite communications Space Delta 8[170] 6[104]
Advanced Technology Risk Reduction (ATRR) Space surveillance[171] Space Delta 9[172] 1[104]
Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Environmental monitoring Space Delta 2[173] 4[104]
Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) Satellite communications Space Delta 8[174] 6[104]
Defense Support Program (DSP) Missile warning[175] Space Delta 4
Electro-optical/Infrared Weather System – Geosynchronous (EWS-G)[176] Environmental monitoring Space Delta 2[177]
Fleet Satellite Communications System (FLTSAT) Satellite communications Space Delta 8
Global Positioning System (GPS) Positioning, navigation, and timing Space Delta 8 32[104]
Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) Space surveillance[178] Space Delta 9[179] 6[104]
Milstar Satellite communications Space Delta 8[180] 5[104]
Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) Satellite communications Space Delta 8
Operationally Responsive Space-5 (ORS-5) Space surveillance[181] Space Delta 9[182] 1[104]
Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Missile warning
Missile defense
Battlespace awareness
Technical intelligence[183]
Space Delta 4 7[104]
Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Space surveillance Space Delta 9[184] 1[104]
Ultra High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) Satellite communications Space Delta 8
Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Satellite communications Space Delta 8[185] 10[104]
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Orbital test spaceplane Space Delta 9[186] 2[187]

Space systems

U.S. Space Force space systems
Name Space system image Mission Operator
AN/FPS-85 Space surveillance Space Delta 2
C-Band Space Surveillance Radar System[188] Space surveillance Space Delta 2
Cobra Dane Missile defense
Space surveillance[189]
Space Delta 4
Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) Space surveillance Space Delta 2[190]
Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) Missile defense
Space surveillance[191]
Space Delta 4[192]
Perimeter Acquisition Radar Attack Characterization System (PARCS) Missile warning
Space surveillance[193]
Space Delta 4
Satellite Control Network (SCN) Ground station Space Delta 6
Space Fence Space surveillance Space Delta 2
Space Surveillance Telescope[194] Space surveillance Space Delta 2
Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR) Missile warning
Missile defense
Space surveillance[195]
Space Delta 4

Space launch vehicles


United States Space Force Budget 2020[196] 2021[197] 2022 (Authorized)[198] 2023 (Enacted)[199]
Operation & Maintenance $40,000,000 $2,492,114,000 $3,611,012,000 $4,086,883,000
Procurement $2,310,994,000 $2,787,354,000 $4,462,188,000
Research, Development, Test & Evaluation $10,540,069,000 $11,794,566,000 $16,631,377,000
Military Personnel $1,109,400,000
Total $40,000,000 $15,343,177,000 $18,192,932,000 $26,289,848,000

The 2021 Department of Defense Budget requests $1.6 billion for three National Security Space Launch vehicles.[200] Of this budget $1.05 billion will fund three launches: AFSPC-36, AFSPC-87 and AFSPC-112.[201] The United States Space Force is reported to be working closely with commercial leaders in the space domain, such as Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), to determine their capability in serving the mission. According to Lt. General David Thompson, the United States Space Force is already in contracting talks with Blue Origin.[202] The budget includes $560 million to upgrade the launch systems of Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, and United Launch Alliance.[201] Further, the 2021 budget requests $1.8 billion for two Lockheed Martin Global Positioning System (GPS) III systems and other projects to fulfill the Space Superiority Strategy.[200] The GPS III system, first launched on 23 December 2018, is the latest GPS system from contractor Lockheed Martin; the GPS III system has improved anti-jamming capabilities and is three times more accurate than current GPS systems.[203] The FY 2021 Budget also includes $2.5 billion allocated to the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) satellite constellation as part of a DOD-wide increase on missile defense capacity to defend from threats such as North Korea.[196] The Next-Gen OPIR constellation will provide the U.S. military with a resilient worldwide missile warning system.[204] This new generation of satellites will work in tandem with the existing Space Based Overhead Persistent Infrared System (SBIRS); production of the SBIRS will conclude in 2022 and the first Next-Gen OPIR satellite is expected to be delivered in 2025.[201] The FY2023 budget request includes $1,000,000,000 dollars from the US Air Forces MILPERS budget that was transferred to the Space Force.


The Space Force had mixed reception within policy think tanks. The Center for Strategic and International Studies supported the creation of the new service, arguing that it was needed to consolidate national security space responsibilities, which in 2016 was spread out across 60 different organizations. They also argued that the Space Force was needed to develop space strategy and doctrine, and ensure space agencies are not overlooked.[205] The Heritage Foundation also supported the creation of the Space Force, citing the existence of anti-satellite threats from China and Russia and the creation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and reorganization of the Russian Space Forces, and the Chinese People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force in 2015.[206] The Project on Government Oversight opposed the creation of a space force, arguing that centralizing military assets resulted in more duplication and led to inter-service tension.[207] The United States Department of Defense estimated that establishing Space Force would cost $13 billion over 5 years.[207] The Cato Institute argued the creation of a Space Force was premature because of uncertainty about its military and international impacts.[208]

The idea of a space force was popular with supporters of former President Donald Trump, and Trump's presidential campaign sold unofficial space force merchandise – a practice he has been criticized for.[209] The creation of Space Force resulted in some jokes, memes, and controversies online.[209][210] Late night talk show hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert joked about the idea.[211] A Netflix comedy show, Space Force, has a plot involving the establishment of a United States Space Force.[212] The Space Force was accused of being a "vanity project" for President Trump, despite the concept being debated since the 1990s as a means to counter Chinese and Russian military threats in space. Trump claimed in 2018 to have created the idea of the Space Force, saying "nobody even thought about the Space Force" before him, while in reality it was first proposed by representatives Jim Cooper and Mike Rogers in 2017.[213] After President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the Biden administration would not re-evaluate the decision to establish the Space Force.[214]

Following the departure of Donald Trump from the presidency and the confirmation of the Space Force's establishment by the Biden administration, less critical and more analytical coverage of the Space Force has arisen. High-ranking military officers and commentators interviewed by Politico in a February 2021 article agreed that President Trump's influence and image were in part the cause for the negative reception of the Space Force, and that improving its public image would take time.[215] In another February 2021 article in The Conversation, Wendy Whitman Cobb, an Air University professor, blamed the generally derisive and inaccurate public perception of the Space Force to the influence of science fiction and pop culture, claiming that "modern pop culture depictions of the Space Force as a joke are distracting from the serious responsibilities the USSF is taking on."[216] Intelligencer has described the Space Force in a November 2021 article as "Trump's most misunderstood creation," also attributing the negative reception of the Space Force on the impact of military science fiction on American culture, as well as on the public image of Donald Trump at the time of its creation, and the subsequent appropriation and politicization of the idea of a Space Force by President Trump and his supporters.[217] In May 2022, the American Homefront Project, a collaboration of public media stations that reports on military and veteran affairs, released a story consulting several Space Force cadets and officers which clarified the role of the Space Force and emphasized its importance as a branch.[218]

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External links

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