Naval Space Command

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Naval Space Command
Naval Space Command (US Navy) insignia 1983.png
Active1 October 1983 – July 2002
Country United States
Branch United States Navy
RoleNSC provides Operating surveillance, navigation, communication, environmental, Transportation and information systems
Part ofUnited States Space Command

The Naval Space Command (NSC) was a military command of the United States Navy. It was headquartered at Dahlgren, Virginia, USA, and began operations 1 October 1983. Naval Space Command used the medium of space and its potential to provide essential information and capabilities to shore and afloat naval forces by a variety of means:

  • Operating surveillance, navigation, communication, environmental, and information systems;
  • Advocating naval warfighting requirements in the joint arena; and
  • Advising, supporting, and assisting the naval services through training, and by developing space plans, programs, policies, concepts, and doctrine.

The command was merged into Naval Network and Space Operations Command, itself part of Naval Network Warfare Command, about July 2002.[1]


Naval Space Command's headquarters staff and operational element numbered approximately 350 Navy military and civilian personnel. Their component commands include the Naval Satellite Operations Center and the Fleet Surveillance Support Command.

NSC, a component of USSPACECOM, operated assigned space systems to provide surveillance and warning, and provide spacecraft telemetry and on-orbit engineering support. In addition, NSC served as the Alternate Space Control Center [AASC] for USSPACECOM's primary centers located at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

ASCC missions include operational direction of the entire global space surveillance network (SSN) for commander, USSPACECOM (USCINCSPACE). The ASCC also detects, tracks, identifies, and catalogs all man-made objects in space and provides position information on these objects to about 1,000 clients. In addition, ASCC is charged with monitoring the space environment and informing owners and operators of U.S. and allied space systems of potential threats to their assets by continuous liaison with the systems' operations centers.

The mainstay of NSC revolves around providing space support to day-to-day operations of the Fleet and Fleet Marine Forces worldwide, whether for routine deployments, exercises, or actions in response to a crisis situation. This space support to terrestrial and naval forces can be categorized across a broad spectrum of activities that encompass communications, surveillance and indication, warning, intelligence, navigation, and remote sensing.


Naval Space Command manages two distinct surveillance efforts in support of U.S. Navy ships, other U.S. Navy units, and Fleet Marine Forces: tracking satellites in orbit and monitoring over-the-horizon threats from sea and air forces.

NSC operates a surveillance network of nine field stations located across the southern U.S. Three transmitter sites in the network are located at Jordan Lake, AL, Lake Kickapoo, TX and Gila River, AZ. Six receiver sites are located at Tattnall, GA, Hawkinsville, GA, Silver Lake, MS, Red River, AR, Elephant Butte, NM, and San Diego, CA.

These surveillance stations produce a "fence" of electromagnetic energy that can detect objects out to an effective range of 15,000 nautical miles.

Over one million satellite detections, or observations, are collected by this surveillance network each month. Data gathered is transmitted to a computer center at NSC headquarters in Dahlgren, where it is used to constantly update a data base of spacecraft orbital elements. This information is reported to Fleet and Fleet Marine Forces to alert them when particular satellites of interest are overhead. The command also maintains a catalog of all earth-orbiting satellites and supports USSPACECOM as part of the nation's worldwide Space Surveillance Network.


Naval Space Command provides space intelligence support to deployed naval forces through an initiative dubbed "Chambered Round." The Chambered Round product is a message that provides deployed naval forces with tactical assessments of hostile space capabilities and specific reactions to their operations. This knowledge assists Fleet and Fleet Marine Force tactical units in reducing their vulnerability to space reconnaissance efforts.


The Minitrack system that was developed in the late 1950s for the NRL Vanguard Satellite Program used the signals emitted by Sputnik and later satellites to determine their positions and orbits. This pioneering tracking system led to the concept of tracking nonradiating, or noncooperative, satellites by signals reflected off them. An experiment using a transmitter in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and Minitrack receivers demonstrated the concept, and from this experiment a larger and more elaborate system was developed by NRL. This system became known as the Naval Space Surveillance System (NAVSPASUR), which was commissioned as an operational command in 1961 and was commanded by Naval Space COmmand from 1993. Although the operational command is now integrated with the Air Force 20th Space Control Squadron, the sensor system is still in active use as a major component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wagner, Gary R. "Naval Network and Space Operations Command Established". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  2. ^ Wagner, Gary R. (October 24, 2004). "Navy Transfers Space Surveillance Mission to Air Force". Navy newsstand. Retrieved September 13, 2014.

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