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Air Force Space Command
Air Force Space Command Logo.svg
Air Force Space Command emblem
Active 1 September 1982– 20 December 2019
Country United States of America
Branch Air Force
Type Major Command
Role Development and operation of military space technologies
Size 40,000
Part of U.S. Strategic Command
Garrison/HQ Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
Nickname(s) AFSPC
Commander Gen William L. Shelton[1]
Ceremonial chief Lt Gen John E. Hyten[2]
Executive Director Barbara Westgate[3]
Command Chief Master Sergeant CMSgt Linus Jordan[4]

Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) is a major command of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. AFSPC supports U.S. military operations worldwide through the use of many different types of satellite, launch and cyber operations. Operationally, AFSPC is under the Combatant Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command.

More than 40,000 people perform AFSPC missions at 88 locations worldwide, including military, civilians and contractors. This includes approximately 22,000 military personnel and 9,000 civilian employees, although their missions overlap.

On 1 December 2009, the intercontinental ballistic missile mission was transferred to the new Air Force Global Strike Command. AFSPC gained the cyber operations mission with the stand-up of 24th Air Force under AFSPC in August 2009. On December 20, 2019, the Air Force Space Command was changed to the independent U.S.S.F.


According to AFSPC, its mission is "to provide resilient and cost-effective Space and Cyberspace capabilities for the Joint Force and the Nation."[5] AFSPC claims its activities make space reliable to United States warfighters (i.e. forces personnel) by assuring their access to space.

AFSPC's 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, protection and space intelligence analysis.[6]
  • Force enhancement provides weather, communications, intelligence, missile warning, and navigation. Force enhancement is support to the warfighter.


During the Cold War, space operations focused on missile warning, and command and control for the National Command Authority. Missile warning and space operations were combined to form what was known as Space Command in 1982. Following the creation of United States Space Command, a Unified Combatant Command, in 1985, Space Command was renamed Air Force Space Command. 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 and then moved to Air Force Global Strike Command in 2009. Air Force Space Command became the lead Major Command for Air Force cyberspace operations in 2009, gaining Air Force cyber operations and combat communications units and the Air Force Network Integration Center and Air Force Spectrum Management Office (formerly known as the Air Force Frequency Management Agency). On Apr. 1, 2013, Air Force Space Command Announced that the Space Innovation and Development Center's missions had been realigned under Headquarters, Air Force Space Command, and the Air Force Warfare Center.[7]

List of commanders

No. Image Name Start of Term End of Term Notes
1. James V Hartinger.jpg Gen. James V. Hartinger 1 September 1982 30 July 1984 [8]
2. General Robert Herres, military portrait, 1984.JPEG Gen. Robert T. Herres 30 July 1984 1 October 1986
3. Maj. Gen. Maurice C. Padden 1 October 1986 29 October 1987
4. Donald Kutyna.jpg Lt. Gen. Donald J. Kutyna 29 October 1987 29 March 1990
5. Thomas S Moorman Jr.jpg Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Moorman Jr. 29 March 1990 23 March 1992
6. Donald Kutyna.jpg Gen. Donald J. Kutyna 23 March 1992 30 June 1992
7. Chuck Horner (color).jpg Gen. Charles A. Horner 30 June 1992 13 September 1994
8. Joseph ashy.jpg Gen. Joseph W. Ashy 13 September 1994 26 August 1996
9. Howell M Estes III.jpg Gen. Howell M. Estes III 26 August 1996 14 August 1998
10. Richard Myers official portrait.jpg Gen. Richard B. Myers 14 August 1998 22 February 2000
11. Ralph E Eberhart, CINCSPACE & CINCNORAD.jpg Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart 22 February 2000 19 April 2002
12. Lance W Lord.jpg Gen. Lance W. Lord 19 April 2002 1 April 2006
Acting Klotz fg8.jpg Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz 1 April 2006 26 June 2006
13. Kevin P. Chilton.jpg Gen. Kevin P. Chilton 26 June 2006 3 October 2007
Acting Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel 3 October 2007 12 October 2007
14. C. Robert Kehler 2007.jpg Gen. C. Robert Kehler 12 October 2007 5 January 2011
15. Gen William L Shelton 2012.jpg Gen. William L. Shelton 5 January 2011 20 December 2019


Numbered Air Forces

Air Force Space Command has two active Numbered Air Forces (NAFs).

Fourteenth Air Force

The Fourteenth Air Force provides space warfighting forces to U.S. Strategic Command in its capacity as Air Forces Strategic-Space, and is located at Vandenberg AFB, California. It manages the generation and employment of space forces to support U.S. Strategic Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) operational plans and missions.[9]

Twenty-Fourth Air Force

The Twenty-fourth Air Force, with the cyber operations mission, was activated under AFSPC in August 2009, at Lackland Air Force Base.[10]

Direct Reporting Units

AFSPC is the major command providing space forces and trained cyber warfare 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 U.S. Department of Defense's ICBM follow-on operational test and evaluation program.

Space and Missile Systems Center

The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles AFB, California, designs and acquires all Air Force and most Department of Defense space systems. It oversees launches, completes on-orbit checkouts, then turns systems over to user agencies. It supports the Program Executive Office for Space on the NAVSTAR Global Positioning, Defense Satellite Communications and MILSTAR systems. SMC also supports the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and the Follow-on Early Warning System. In addition, it supports development and acquisition of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Air Force Program Executive Office for Strategic Systems.

Air Force Network Integration Center

The Air Force Network Integration Center (AFNIC), located at Scott AFB, IL, is a direct reporting unit to Air Force Space Command, and the Air Force's premier organization for Air Force Network Integration, cyber simulation, and network standards, architecture and engineering services.

Air Force Spectrum Management Office

The AFSMO mission is to plan, provide and preserve access to the radio frequency spectrum for the Air Force and selected Department of Defense activities in support of national policy objectives, systems development and global operations. This includes obtaining spectrum access critical for all Air Force core functions.


The AFSPC headquarters is a major unit located at Peterson AFB, Colorado. There are 6 AFSPC host bases:

AFSPC also operates several Air Force Stations for launch support and early warning missions.

Space capabilities

Spacelift operations at the East and West Coast launch bases provide services, facilities and range safety control for the conduct of DOD, 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 missile attack on North America. Space surveillance radars provide vital information on the location of satellites and space debris for the nation and the world.

General Shelton has said that in order to protect against attacks, Space Situational Awareness is much more important than additional hardening or armoring of satellites.[11]

As of 2013, Space Command is considering Space Disaggregation, which would involve replacing a few large multimission satellites with larger numbers of smaller single purpose birds.[12] This could be used to defend against ASATs, by increasing the number of targets that needed to be attacked.[13]



Launch vehicles

Space situational awareness

Ballistic missile warning radars

In popular culture

In the science-fiction TV series’ Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe the fictional Stargate Program is managed by the U.S. military, primarily the Air Force. The Air Force Space Command patch was in those series’ worn by personnel at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and onboard various fictional spaceships.

See also


  1. "General William L. Shelton". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  2. "Lieutenant General John E. Hyten". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  3. "Barbara A. Westgate". United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 2013-04-09. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  4. "Chief Master Sergeant Linus Jordan". United States Air Force Space Command. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  5. US Air Force. "Air Force Space Command". AFSPC. Archived from the original on 2 May 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  6. Brown, Peter J. (9 July 2009). "Mixed signals over Chinese missiles". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  7. "AFSPC Public Web Site". Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  8. "2011 USAF Almanac". May 2011. p. 105. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  9. "14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic)". Vandenberg Air Force Base website. United States Air Force. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  10. "24th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) website". United States Air Force. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  11. "Future of USAF Space Command". Defense News. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  12. "Disaggregation in Space: A Strategy for National Security Space in an Era of Fiscal Austerity?". George Marshall Institute. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  13. "Space: Disruptive Challenges". Air University. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links

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