VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Twenty three thousand objects the size of a softball are swirling around the atmosphere at this moment, and one new Air Force unit will have the responsibility of keeping tabs on every one of them.
The 18th Space Control Squadron is the Air Force’s newest space control squadron, and it will fall under the 21st Space Wing. It stood up July 22 at Vandenberg Air Force Base and is underneath the command of Lt. Col. Scott Putnam.
“The JSpOC (Joint Space Operations Center) historically has been known for space situational awareness,” explains Lt. Col. Scott Putnam, Commander, 18th Space Control Squadron. “The 18th Space Control Squadron is being formed as a separate unit from the JSpOC to focus our efforts on routine space situational awareness in order to enhance space support to the warfighter.”
"The activation of the 18th SPCS today is an important step in enhancing our overall operational effectiveness and agility, especially for the contested, degraded or operationally-limited environments of the future, “ explains Lt. Gen. David Buck, Commander, 14th Air Force, Air Force Space Command; and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command. “It not only makes sense, it is essential to detach day-to-day, tactical space situational awareness activities and allow the JSpOC to sharpen its focus on our broader, operational-level command and control mission. And, with his background, Lt. Col. Putnam is the perfect person to lead the 18th SPCS."
The space situational awareness mission consists of maintaining the satellite catalog, providing potential collision prediction for all satellite owners, and protecting the international space station from collisions.
The 18th Space Control Squadron will soon be adopting the JSpOC Mission System to catalog all data for each item in orbit more effectively. With so many objects in our atmosphere, the space frontier is only becoming busier.
The new unit was created to focus responsibilities with regard to space situational awareness to improve support to war fighting.
“It’s all foundational information that supports the ability to do war fighting in space,” said Putnam. “The 18th Space Control Squadron will be the foundational level that will inform the command and control function of the JSpOC.”
With 70 billets for Vandenberg, and an on target completion date, the unit has been successful from the start of its 15 month development plan.
“We’re able to create a new heritage and add to the existing heritage of the 18th,” explains Putnam. “It’s a rare opportunity to stand up a new unit, and we’re looking forward to the challenges and the new possibilities that standing up a new unit brings.”