Air Force gains new mission

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Thibault
  • 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force gained a new mission when the 1st Space Operations Squadron accepted satellite control authority of the Advanced Technology Risk Reduction satellite Jan. 31 here.

Handed over from the Missile Denfense Agency, ATRR is the newest space-based space situational awareness platform to ensure national security interests in space, said Lt. Col. Lorenzo Bradley, the 1st SOPS commander.

"Our leaders have been asking for more and better space surveillance data and challenged Air Force Space Command to seek out and leverage non-traditional SSA capabilities," Colonel Bradley said. "1st SOPS has stepped up and proven that we're more than able to accept that challenge."

ATRR was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., May 5, 2009, as an experimental satellite for MDA. After undergoing testing with the MDA for 20 months, the satellite was determined to be of operational use as a space surveillance sensor and transferred to AFSPC. As the command's expert in conducting onorbit space surveillance, 1st SOPS now operates the system.

"1st SOPS continues to be the command's leader in on-orbit SSA -- bringing ATRR onboard will further enhance 1st SOPS' capabilities and contributions to the broader SSA mission," said Col. John Shaw, the 50th Operations Group commander.

This isn't the first time 1st SOPS has gained a new mission from the MDA. The unit operated the Mid-course Space Experiment from 2000 through 2008, also using the platform as a dedicated space-surveillance asset.

Previously a unit without a satellite to call its own, 1st SOPS continues to expand its operational depth. The unit expects to accept satellite control authority from Space Missile Systems Center's Space Superiority Systems Directorate of the first space-based Space surveillance satellite this month.

SBSS will expand the unit's ability to provide space-based space situational awareness through routine monitoring of objects in space, reducing the chance of an on-orbit collision.