The 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron is a component of the 50th Operations Group, 50th Space Wing, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The squadron was activated Oct. 1, 1992.
The squadron is the Air Force's only organization for space-based demonstrations and experiments. 3 SES is the lead for capitalizing on operational potential of several developmental satellites as part of the Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center.
The Operationally Responsive Space-1 satellite was initiated to address a U.S. Central Command need for enhanced battlefield awareness. ORS-1 is the first and only dedicated space intelligence capability for USCENTCOM. ORS-1's significant accomplishments include: proven rapid acquisition; maximized use of existing systems and architecture; standardized spacecraft to ground interfaces for payload, tasking, and scheduling via the Virtual Mission Operations Center, demonstrated rapid development and deployment, and early combatant command acceptance.
3 SES operates the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space satellite. ANGELS hosts a Space Situational Awareness sensor payload to evaluate techniques for detection, tracking, and characterizing of space objects. The experimental on-board vehicle safety system explores methods for dramatically reducing probability of collision with other objects. ANGELS also evaluates SSA techniques in a limited area around its Delta-4 launch vehicle upper stage several hundred kilometers above GEO, testing maneuvering concepts around the rocket body.
3 SES also oversees operations of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, an experimental program designed to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the Air Force.
3 SES heritage originated in Air Force Space Command's space surveillance mission. The unit was originally constituted Aug. 10, 1990, however, it was not activated as the 3rd Space Surveillance Squadron until Oct. 1, 1992. When activated, 3 SpSS was one of only two deep space tracking system squadrons who tracked objects orbiting more than 22,300 miles above the earth. 3 SpSS forwarded this data to the 1st Space Control Squadron, Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Colorado to catalog and identify all man-made earth-orbiting objects.
3 SpSS was reassigned to the 21st Operations Group April 26, 1995 as part of a 21 SW realignment. 3 SpSS operated at Misawa Air Base, Japan until inactivating Feb. 20, 2002.
On March 10, 2006, AFSPC activated 3 SpSS and redesignated it the 3d Space Experimentation Squadron with a mission to develop operational concepts for space systems. 3 SES focuses on developing a core cadre of space professionals to serve as subject matter experts for all future AFSPC space-based endeavors. The cadre forges close relationships with current and future mission partners to minimize funding requirements. 3 SES members also demonstrate the operational utility of selected demonstrations by developing initial mission CONOPS, training and standardization programs, command and control infrastructures, intelligence support frameworks, and documenting "lessons learned" for use in future programs. The squadron was reassigned to 50 OG April 1, 2013.
The unit's emblem is a traditional Japanese temple dog called a "shishi" with the globe beneath its front paws. The shishi is a prominent symbol in Japan placed outside of shrines and temples as a guardian.
(Current as of August 2016)