3d Space Experimentation Squadron

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3d Space Experimentation Squadron
3d Space Experimentation Squadron.PNG
3d Space Experimentation Squadron emblem
Active 1990-2002; 2006–Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Space Control
Role Experimentation
Part of AFSPC/21st Space Wing
Garrison/HQ Schriever AFB, Colorado
Motto Unequalled excellence
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA

The 3d Space Experimentation Squadron (3 SES) is a space control unit located at Schriever AFB in Colorado.


The 3d Space Experimentation Squadron is AFSPC's premier organization for space-based demonstrations, pathfinders and experiments. The unit identifies concepts of employment, training, education and technical skill sets required to field selected future AFSPC missions. The 3d SES will develop a core cadre of space professionals to serve as subject matter experts for all future AFSPC space-based endeavors, demonstrate operational utility of selected demonstrations and apply lessons learned from demonstrations and pathfinders for use in future initiatives.[1]


The 3d SES began its existence as the 3d Surveillance Squadron on August 10, 1990, at Misawa AB, Japan. It was later renamed Det. 3, 73d Space Group in January 1991. The home for the 3d SS (project name RINGO) was completed on March 16, 1991. Two antennas, an operations building, support building, pump housing and entry control point were constructed beginning on October 1, 1991, and was completed on May 31, 1992. Later that year, the unit was redesignated 3d Space Surveillance Squadron, while their Deep Space Tracking System obtained initial operating capability in April 1994.

The current designation of the unit, the 3d Space Experimentation Squadron began on March 10, 2006, with its new home at Mod 9, Schriever AFB, Colorado.

The squadron is one of two Deep Space Tracking System squadrons located throughout the world. The DSTS tracks objects orbiting more than 22,300 miles above the Earth. More than 9,500 man-made objects orbit the Earth, ranging in size from a baseball to the Mir space station.

The 3d SPSS forwards this data to the 1st Command and Control Squadron and the Space Control Center, Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, CO. The 1st CACS and the center use this information, along with other data, to catalog and identify all man-made Earth-orbiting objects. Several agencies use this information for everything from collision avoidance to intelligence. Because of its mission, the 3d SPSS works closely with Det. 3, 18th Intelligence Squadron, Schriever AFB, CO. The detachment provides specialized intelligence information necessary for the 3d SPSS to perform its deep space surveillance mission. Though Det. 3 is controlled by the 18th IS at Schriever AFB, it is an administrative subordinate of the 544th Intelligence Group at Peterson. The 3d Space Surveillance Squadron was originally constituted as the 3d Surveillance Squadron on August 10, 1990. The squadron stood up as

Assigned to the 73d Space Group, the 3d was tasked with operating passive sensors for the Deep Space Tracking System.


  • Constituted as 3d Surveillance Squadron on 10 Aug 1990
Re-designated: 3d Space Surveillance Squadron on 1 October 1992
Activated on 1 October 1992
Inactivated on 20 February 2002
Re-designated: 3d Space Experimentation Squadron on 16 February 2006
Activated on 10 March 2006


  • 73d Space Group, 1 October 1992-25 April 1995
  • 21st Operations Group 26 April 1995-20 February 2002
  • 595th Space Group, 10 March 2006-30 March 2013
  • 50th Operations Group, 1 April 2013-



Space Systems[edit]

  • Deep Space Tracking System (1992–2002)


  • Lt Col Joseph Prue
  • Lt Col Jeff Hokett
  • Lt Col Jim Maestas
  • Lt Col Richard Lucas (Misawa)
  • Lt Col Robert Preston (Misawa - 1st Commander)



 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ Air Force Space Command: Space Innovation and Development Center Factsheet
  2. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-10, 2001
  3. ^ USAF FOIA Request-2009-01074
  4. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-97, 2000
  5. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-62, 6 Dec 1999
  6. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-58, 6 Dec 1999
  7. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-09, 1 Nov 1997

External links[edit]