Space Systems Command Celebrates First Anniversary as USSF Field Command

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  • By Lisa Sodders
Space Systems Command (SSC) has achieved numerous milestones in the year since it was stood up as a U.S. Space Force (USSF) Field Command on Aug. 13, 2021.
As the Command responsible for rapidly developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities, SSC and its team of military, civilian and contractor personnel are laser-focused on staying ahead of the rapidly expanding adversarial threats in space.
"I've been impressed with what SSC has been able to accomplish with regard to changing the face of government space acquisition,” said Frank Calvelli, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration.
“By creating a unity of effort, building partnerships and delivering space capabilities on time and within budget, our warfighters have what they need to stay ahead of our adversaries and our nation's assured access to space remains intact,” Calvelli said. “It is time to bring fresh energy to acquisitions and SSC is a critical part of that effort."
With an $11 billion budget, SSC now includes five program executive offices: Assured Access to Space; Communications & Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT); Space Sensing; Battle Management Command, Control & Communications (BMC3); and Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power. This reorganization has changed the focus at SSC from managing systems to managing capabilities from development through sustainment, as well as providing synergy with the warfighter.
Four program executive officers oversee these mission areas and the full lifecycles of all SSC programs -- with the goal to have fully resilient space capabilities by 2026.
SSC is making strides in its priority to integrate U.S. space capabilities so that they may work independently as well as part of a system of systems. SSC’s Space Systems Integration Office (SSIO) works to ensure that the collection of space systems - each capable of independent operation - are interoperable and achieve desired capabilities by integrating systems from the U.S. Department of Defense, allied partners and commercial providers.
Creating more resilient systems ensures that capabilities are able stand entirely alone in space or on the ground. System of systems integration is critical for everything the nation develops and acquires moving forward.    
For this reason, SSC is advancing Enterprise Ground Services (EGS). EGS provides a suite of tactical satellite command and control services to the space enterprise using open standards and a common platform that efficiently integrates capabilities across missions and enables a resilient enterprise ground architecture with cyber resiliency "baked in" from the beginning.
Space Systems Integration is one of four new SSC offices, along with Commercial Services, International Affairs and Warfighting Integration that have been established this year. Additionally, Space Launch Delta 30, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, and Space Launch Delta 45, at Patrick Space Force Base, are now incorporated into SSC, to increase efficiency and unity of effort around launch.
SSC’s first year has included 65 successful launches supported by both the Eastern and Western Ranges, including five National Security Space Launches. Other launch related highlights include Space Launch Delta 30 celebrating its 2,000th launch this year, including the SpaceX Falcon 9 “Inspiration 4” launch last September -- the first human spaceflight to orbit Earth with exclusively private citizens on board.
The sixth and final geosynchronous-orbit Space Based Infrared Satellite (SBIRS GEO-6) launched this month from Space Launch Delta 45, completing the SBIRS constellation that provides missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence capabilities to the U.S., and its allies.
SSC continued to incorporate flight hardware reuse as a common-sense way to further reduce launch costs and free-up physical storage space while not compromising mission success. A Falcon 9 Starlink 4-12 booster was reused for a record of 12 times at the Eastern Range, followed by record-breaking F9 Starlink 4-19 booster that was reused 13 times.
"I could not be more proud of all that SSC has achieved in its first year,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, Commander, SSC. “SSC is a nearly 15,000 strong team across the U.S, including two Space Launch Deltas ensuring crucial assured access to space.”
“SSC was purpose-built to get after the threat by taking the best-of-breed organizational designs from MDA (Missile Defense Agency), NRO (National Reconnaissance Office), and the RCOs (Rapid Capabilities Offices),” Guetlein said. “Never before has our collaboration and communication been stronger between our space acquisition partners. We have opened the door even more to our critical partners - government, international and commercial - making it quicker to collaborate and deliver advanced technology to the warfighters.”
“Combined with dedicated teams who manage International Affairs, Warfighting Integration, Commercial Services, the SSC Front Door, and Space Systems Integration, we are laser-focused on ensuring the U.S. stays ahead of the threat,” Guetlein said. “We have accomplished a tremendous amount in our first year ensuring our American and allied space superiority.”
Commercial and international partnerships are critical. SSC’s paradigms to that regard include “Allied by Design” and “Exploit What We Have, Buy What We Can, and Build Only What We Must.” SSC also echoes Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall’s guiding principle of “One Team, One Fight” - which refers to an integrated defense in which the whole of government, commercial and international partners are united as essential team members of the American national security team.
Delivery of the Enhanced Polar Systems - Recapitalization (SATCOM) payload in April of 2022, ahead of the 2023 launch in support of Space Norway is an example of how SSC is supporting critical military communications and demonstrating bedrock support to European allies. EPS-R is an Extremely High Frequency MILSATCOM system designed to extend legacy EPS services into the early- to mid 2030 to provide 24/7 protected satellite communications for forces operating in the Arctic region.
SSC continued to strengthen its international partnerships, hosting visiting delegations from Luxembourg, Australia, Germany, Japan, Poland and the United Kingdom in its first year.  Further, all 10 partner nations signed the Wideband Global SATCOM Memorandum of Understanding, SSC began co-chairing (with Germany) the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Capability Architecture Working Group (CAWG) and stood up a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) New Business Office.
As SSC builds greater unity of effort with government agencies involved with space acquisition, it is also building the foundation for the discovery of commercial technologies and innovations, which can help drive faster and more effective acquisition processes for current and future programs and capabilities, SSC officials said.
To that end, SSC has hosted several Industry and Reverse Industry Day events this year, inviting companies with relevant mission area technologies to meet with SSC and other agency officials to explore partnership opportunities.
SSC also successfully completed the trial period for the Unified Data Library (UDL), establishing a permanent capability to directly ingest space observation data from the Space Fence radar system. This milestone establishes the UDL’s first direct sensor connection with the Space Surveillance Network (SSN), the Department of Defense (DoD) network of ground and space-based sensors that provide observation data on objects in the space environment.
Space Fence, located on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, is the most sensitive search radar in the SSN, capable of detecting objects in orbit as small as a marble in low Earth orbit (LEO). It provides enhanced space surveillance capabilities to detect and track orbiting objects such as commercial and military satellites, depleted rocket boosters and space debris in low, medium and geosynchronous Earth orbit regimes.

Additionally, in an effort to better reflect its function and place within the USSF service’s structure, the Los Angeles Garrison at Los Angeles Air Force Base, headquarters of SSC, has been redesignated as Space Base Delta 3 (SBD 3), which is assigned to Space Systems Command.