assigns missions to the unified and specified Combatant Commands in the Unified Command Plans (UCPs). As a unified Combatant Command, the U.S. Stratetic Command (USSTRATCOM) has been assigned the space control mission in its UCP. USSTRATCOM has delegated its space control mission to the Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC SPACE) at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) is the Command and Control (C2) center where the Commander JFCC SPACE exercises Space Coordinating Authority and C2 of assigned and attached forces. The Commander JFCC SPACE is dual hatted, also being the Commander of the 14th Air Force, headquartered at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The 14th Air Force reports administratively to Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) but operationally supports USSTRATCOM through JFCC SPACE. The 614th Air and Space Operations Center (614 AOC) is a subordinate unit of the 14th Air Force and is the primary force provider to the JSpOC. The 614 AOC provides ready space forces and capabilities to the JSpOC in order to execute theater and global operations with a priority on warfighter support. The 614th AOC Detachment 1 is located in Dahlgren, Virginia, at the Distributive Space Command and Control–Dahlgren (DSC2-D) center, which is the backup facility to the JSpOC. These command relationships2 are shown in Figure 1.1.
To protect vital U.S. national security and other interests, the Commander JFCC SPACE must conduct near-real-time space situational awareness (SSA), assess threats, and plan courses of action.3 Joint Publication 3-14, “Space Operations,” defines SSA as the requisite current and predictive knowledge of the space environment and the operational environment on which space operations depend—including physical, virtual, and human domains—as well as all factors, activities, and events of friendly and adversary space forces across the spectrum of conflict.4 AFSPC standardized astrodynamics algorithms are used at the JSpOC, and the distributed software containing these algorithms is used by its customers. These standardized astrodynamics algorithms are used to measure and describe satellite motion. The distributed software sent to the user community is maintained by AFSPC. Within the Headquarters AFSPC Space Analysis Directorate, designated AFSPC/A9, is a small office that maintains and distributes the software modules.
The JSpOC currently uses the algorithms found in AFSPC standardized astrodynamics algorithms for a significant portion of its daily space operations, in which it must detect and track space events and maintain a catalog of more than 20,000 space objects. A typical day at the JSpOC using the standardized astrodynamics algorithms includes:
• Collecting and processing 400,000 satellite observations;
• Updating at least three times a special perturbations precision catalog on more than 20,000 objects;
• Preparing and transmitting 200,000 Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensor taskings; and
• Processing 30 detailed conjunction assessments as a result of screening more than 1,000 active payloads against the special perturbations catalog of 20,000 objects.
On February 10, 2009, the Iridium 33 satellite maneuvered into the path of the inactive Russian communications satellite Cosmos 2251, resulting in a collision that destroyed both satellites and left a debris cloud in a densely populated orbit regime. Before the collision, the JSpOC was screening only about 300 Department of Defense (DOD) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites for conjunctions. After this event the JSpOC began screening about 1,000 active satellites for conjunctions with other satellites and debris, including commercial and foreign satellites. USSTRATCOM also initiated the Space Situational Awareness Data Sharing program to further develop products that can be shared with commercial and foreign entities.
AFSPC is a major command (MAJCOM; i.e., it reports administratively to Headquarters Air Force) whose responsibility is to organize, train, and equip for the space mission. Like JFCC, AFSPC is operationally under USSTRATCOM. The JSpOC is supported in its mission by AFSPC, which develops requirements, advocates for budgets at a national level, funds the SSN sensors, and provides other MAJCOM Headquarters level support. The
3 Colonel Mike Wasson, Joint Space Operations Center, U.S. Air Force, “JSpOC SSA Processing,” presentation to the Committee for the Assessment of the U.S. Air Force’s Astrodynamic Standards on December 12, 2011.