20th Space Control Squadron, Detachment 1 was established on October 1, 2004 as a component of the 20th Space Control Squadron headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. Upon activation, the unit assumed both the Naval Space Surveillance System (renamed “Air Force Space Surveillance System” (AFSSS)) and the Alternate Space Control Center (ASCC) missions from Naval Network and Space Operations Command. On April 30, 2010, the unit transferred the AFSSS and ASCC operational missions to the 614th Air & Space Operations Center, Detachment 1 (also located at NSF Dahlgren). The new unit mission is to provide precise mission data processing for Distributive Space Command and Control (DSC2, the new name for the ASCC mission) and AFSSS operations enabling reliable space situational awareness for the United States and our allies. The detachment is comprised of two active duty Air Force members, 17 Air Force civilians and 3 contractors.
The AFSSS radar system has been used continuously since 1954 to detect overflying space objects and debris. The AFSSS consists of a network of nine transmitter/receiver field stations which combine to form vertical bi-static radar that creates a “fence” of electromagnetic energy. The system is capable of detecting objects as small as a basketball in orbit up to an effective range of 15,000 nautical miles, and more than five million satellite detections, or observations, are collected by the AFSSS each month. AFSSS data is transmitted continuously to 20 SPCS, Det 1 at Dahlgren, Va., and the unit processes the observations and updates the satellite catalog using an array of computer systems and applications.
DSC2-Dahlgren is the alternate command and control node for the Joint Space Operations Center-Space Situational Awareness Operations Cell (JSpOC-SSAOC) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. DSC2 tasks the Space Surveillance Network, a worldwide system of 29 sensors (radar and optical), to detect, track and observe orbital objects larger than 10 centimeters. The collected data is transmitted to 20 SPCS, Det 1 computer systems where it is processed, cataloged and analyzed. The observations are used to update the Space Catalog which is a comprehensive listing of the number, type, and orbit of over 15,000 man-made objects in space. 20 SPCS, Det 1 also provides a backup computational and command and control capability for the JSpOC.