18th Space Control Squadron

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18th Space Surveillance Squadron
18th Space Surveillance Squadron.PNG
18th Space Surveillance Squadron emblem
Active1966-1975; 1990-2004; 2016-Present
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Air Force
TypeSpace Control
RoleOptical Space Surveillance
Part ofAir Force Space Command/14th Air Force/1st Space Wing/73d Space Surveillance Group
Garrison/HQVandenberg AFB, California
Motto(s)SEMPER VIGILANS IN SINE ALTO - "Ever Vigilant in the High Frontier"
DecorationsOutstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA

The United States Air Force's 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS) is a space control unit located at Vandenberg AFB, California. Reactivated in 2016, the 18th SPCS is tasked with providing 24/7 support to the space sensor network (SSN), maintaining the space catalog and managing United States Strategic Command’s (USSTRATCOM) space situational awareness (SSA) sharing program to United States, foreign government, and commercial entities. The squadron also conducts advanced analysis, sensor optimization, conjunction assessment, human spaceflight support, reentry/break-up assessment, and launch analysis.[1]


The mission of the 18th SPCS is to deliver foundational Space Situational Awareness to assure global freedom of action in space.[2]


The 18th Space Surveillance Squadron (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 SPCS) 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.

On 22 July 2016, the 18th Space Control Squadron was reinstated at Vandenberg Air Force Base.[3] The squadron has a mission focused on space situational awareness in support of launches, object and debris tracking, and human spaceflight.[4][5]


Major Command[edit]

Numbered Air Force[edit]



Previous designations[7][edit]

  • 18th Space Control Squadron (February 2003 - June 2004)
  • 18th Space Surveillance Squadron (1 November 1966 – 1 October 1975; 1 February 1990-???)

Bases stationed[edit]

Equipment Operated[8][edit]



  1. ^ "18th Space Control Squadron". Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  2. ^ "18th Space Control Squadron". Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  3. ^ "21st Space Wing stands up new space control squadron". Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  4. ^ "18th Space Control Squadron Mission Brief" (PDF). Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  5. ^ CBS News (1 April 2018) Tiangong 1: Chinese satellite falls to Earth, mostly burns up on re-entry
  6. ^ "Fact Sheets : Det 4, 21st Operations Group : Det 4, 21st Operations Group". Archived from the original on 28 May 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2009.
  7. ^ Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
  8. ^ World Airpower Journal. (1992). US Air Force Air Power Directory. Aerospace Publishing: London, UK. ISBN 1-880588-01-3
  9. ^ Air Force Personnel Center Awards Search (Post-1991) Archived 2 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-58, 6 December 1999
  11. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-62, 6 December 1999
  12. ^ AFSPC Special Order GA-09, 1 November 1997
  13. ^ AFHRA factsheet: 18th Space Control Squadron

External links[edit]