Air Force Space Command

Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), created Sept. 1, 1982, is one of nine Air Force major commands, and is headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. AFSPC defends America through its space and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) operations, vital force elements in projecting global reach and global power. AFSPC is a key factor in implementing the expeditionary aerospace force organizational structure.


Air Force Space Command brings space to the warfighter by continuously improving the command's ability to provide and support combat forces -- assuring their access to space. In addition, the command's ICBM forces deter any adversary contemplating the use of weapons of mass destruction. AFSPC has four primary mission areas:

Space forces support involves launching satellites and other high-value payloads into space using a variety of expendable launch vehicles and operating those satellites once in the medium of space.

Space control ensures friendly use of space through the conduct of counterspace operations encompassing surveillance, negation and protection.

Force enhancement provides weather, communications, intelligence, missile warning and navigation.

Force application involves maintaining and operating a rapid response land-based ICBM force as part of the nation's strategic nuclear triad.


Approximately 37,200 people, including 25,800 active-duty military and civilians, and 11,360 contractor employees, combine to perform AFSPC missions.


Air Force Space Command has two numbered air forces. Fourteenth Air Force provides space warfighting forces to U.S. Space Command, and is located at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Fourteenth Air Force manages the generation and employment of space forces to support U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operational plans and missions. Twentieth Air Force, located at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., operates and maintains AFSPC's ICBM weapon systems in support of U.S. Strategic Command war plans.

The Space Warfare Center at Schriever AFB, Colo. is also part of the command. The center plays a major role in fully integrating space systems into the operational Air Force. Its force enhancement mission looks at ways to use space systems to support warfighters in the areas of navigation, weather, intelligence, communications and theater ballistic missile warning, and how these apply to theater operations. The center is also home to the Space Battlelab.

AFSPC is the major command providing space forces for the U.S. Space Command and trained ICBM forces for U.S. Strategic Command. AFSPC also supports NORAD with ballistic missile warning information, operates the Space Warfare Center to develop space applications for direct warfighter support, and is responsible for the Department of Defense's ICBM follow-on operational test and evaluation program.

AFSPC bases and stations include: Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Schriever and Peterson AFBs and Buckley Air National Guard Base, Colo.; Onizuka AS and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Cape Canaveral AS and Patrick AFB, Fla.; Cavalier AS, N.D.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Malmstrom AFB, Mont.; Clear AS, Alaska; Thule AB, Greenland; and Woomera AS, Australia. AFSPC units are located around the world, including Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Space Capabilities

Spacelift operations at the East and West Coast launch bases provide services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and commercial launches. Through the command and control of all DOD satellites, satellite operators provide force-multiplying effects -- continuous global coverage, low vulnerability and autonomous operations. Satellites provide essential in-theater secure communications, weather and navigational data for ground, air and fleet operations, and threat warning. Ground-based radar and Defense Support Program satellites monitor ballistic missile launches around the world to guard against a surprise attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provide vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the world. With a readiness rate above 99 percent, America's ICBM team plays a critical role in maintaining world peace and ensuring the nation's safety and security.


AFSPC operates and supports the Global Positioning System, Defense Satellite Communications Systems Phase II and III, Defense Support Program, NATO III and IV communications and Fleet Satellite Communications System UHF follow-on and MILSTAR satellites. AFSPC currently operates the Atlas II, Delta II, Titan II and Titan IV launch vehicles. This includes all of the nation's primary boosters from the Eastern and Western ranges and range support for the space shuttle. AFSPC also operates the nation's primary source of continuous, real-time solar flare warnings. The command also operates a worldwide network of satellite tracking stations to provide communications links to satellites -- a system called the Air Force Satellite Control Network.

Ground-based radars used primarily for ballistic missile warning include the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, PAVE PAWS and PARCS radars. The Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System, Passive Space Surveillance System, phased-array and mechanical radars provide primary space surveillance coverage.

The ICBM force consists of Minuteman III and Peacekeeper missiles that provide the critical component of America's on-alert strategic forces. As the nation's "silent sentinels," ICBMs, and the people who operate them, have remained on continuous around-the-clock alert since 1959 -- longer than any other U.S. strategic force. Five hundred Minuteman III and 50 Peacekeepter ICBMs are currently on alert in reinforced concrete launch facilities beneath the Great Plains.

AFSPC is the Air Force's largest operator of UH-1N Huey helicopters, responsible for missile operations support and security.


Missile warning and space operations were combined to form Air Force Space Command in 1982, the same year NASA launched the first space shuttle. During the Cold War, space operations focused on missile warning, and command and control for national leadership. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm provided emphasis for the command's new focus on support to the warfighter. ICBM forces were merged into AFSPC in 1993.

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