The mission of the 18th SPCS is to provide direct support to USCINCSPACE’s space control mission through optical space surveillance. This includes detection, tracking, identification, and special signature collection of near space and deep space objects.
18th SPSS was the optical portion of the United States Air Force's Space Surveillance Network. They were responsible for operating four worldwide GEODSS sites, in addition to the Transportable Optical System (TOS), and the Maui Space Surveillance Complex (MSSC). The focal point for all optical command and control was centralized at the Optical Command, Control and Communications Facility (OC3F). The 18 SPSS became part of the 1st Space Wing, Air Force Space Command, on 1 February 1990. The unit was reassigned from the 1st Space Wing to the 73d Space Group on 15 May 1992. The 18th SPSS relocated to Edwards Air Force Base, California in July 1995. The 73rd Space Group was inactivated in May 1995 and all units were then assigned to the 21st Space Wing. With a force-wide renaming of space units, the 18th SPSS became the 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SCS) in February 2003. This renaming did not last long, however, since the unit was inactivated in June 2004, with all detachments falling under the 21st Operations Group.