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1st Space Operations Squadron

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)

The 1st Space Operations Squadron is a component of the 50th Operations Group, 50th Space Wing, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The squadron was activated on Oct. 5, 1987.

The 1st Space Operations Squadron is AFSPC’s premier organization for space-based space situational awareness to assure access to space by commanding satellites to collect and disseminate decision-quality information and provide SSA throughout the spectrum of conflict. The squadron commands, controls and operates the Space Based Space Surveillance System (SBSS), Advanced Technology Risk Reduction (ATRR) system and the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP).  

Mission crews conduct 24-hour operations supporting the three major functions of satellite control: telemetry, tracking and commanding for Air Force Space Command's only space based SSA 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 onboard the Minotaur IV into a sun-synchronous orbit. It is the first space-based SSA sensor to be added to AFSPC'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 Joint Space Operations Center and NASIC.

ATRR launched from Vandenberg AFB May 5, 2009, onboard a Delta II delivery system. ATRR conducts SSA operations in support of the SSN. Satellite Control Authority was transferred to 1 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 JSpOC with geostationary belt surveillance for metric observations from a Low Earth Orbit.


Two GSSAP satellites were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV M+ (4,2) booster configuration from Cape Canaveral AFS, FL on July 28, 2014. The GSSAP satellites provide a space-based capability operating in the near-geosynchronous orbit regime supporting U.S. Strategic Command space surveillance operations as a dedicated Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensor.


GSSAP satellites support Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC SPACE) tasking to collect space situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man­made orbiting objects.  From a near-geosynchronous orbit, it will have a clear, unobstructed and distinct vantage point for viewing Resident Space Objects (RSOs) 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).  RPO allows for the space vehicle to maneuver near a resident space object 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.

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 on 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 1 SOPS.

In December 1989, 1 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 1 SOPS December 2007 before transitioning to the 2nd Space Operations Squadron.

On December 4, 1998, the squadron assumed command and control capability on the Midcourse Space Experiment. MSX became an operational program on October 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, 1 SOPS assumed responsibility of conducting mission assurance telemetry for Department of Defense Boosters, the first mission assigned to MMSOC. This mission transitioned to the Space Test Squadron at Kirtland AFB in March 2009

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


On June 29, 2011, MMSOC's second mission, ORS-1, launched from Wallops Island, Va., 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 Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center, 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 of 2014, ORS-1 operations were realigned under the command of the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron.

(Current as of July 2016)