New Program Executive Officer leads Space Systems Command’s Space Sensing Directorate

  • Published
  • By SSC Public Affairs and the Space Sensing Program Executive Office
Col. Robert W. Davis, Space Sensing’s incoming program executive officer (PEO), assumed leadership of Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Space Sensing Program Executive Office during a change of leadership ceremony held at SSC headquarters, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, June 8.

Davis succeeds Col. Brian Denaro, who served as Space Sensing’s PEO once SSC was established as a U.S. Space Force Field Command in August 2021.

Brig. Gen. Jason Cothern, SSC, deputy commander, officiated the ceremony, highlighting Denaro’s achievements for SSC Space Sensing, which he described as “undoubtedly one of our nation’s most important missions – truly our nation’s unblinking eye.” 

“Col. Denaro is an outstanding leader,” Cothern said. “As we transitioned and grew into Space Systems Command, Col. Denaro took over in Space Sensing as program executive officer and has been doing an incredible job since day one.”

While Denaro’s efforts played an integral role in advancing the program’s office to support SSC’s efforts to get after the threats in space, the program office’s momentum to run and build systems will only further under Davis’ leadership.

“How we underpin the national security and nuclear security of our nation is built on the backs of [our workforce] – you know what it takes to get after the threat,” said Denaro. “Col. Davis, best of luck to you. You are coming into a situation where you have amazing and talented people who I know will continue to deliver.”

Davis, who joins as the new PEO with more than 20 years of military service, amplified the importance of the workforce’s need to remain vigilant with its ability to prevail in its given mission because, as he exclaimed, “make no mistake…we are absolutely in a race.”  

In his address to the audience Davis also shared his commitment to the U.S. Space Force lines of effort, specifically Amplifying the Guardian Spirit, and encouraged the audience to read the force’s new Guardian Spirit handbook, released last April.

“It lays the foundation for how I approach my service to you, through character, connection, commitment, and courage,” stated Davis.

Davis’ previous military tours included space mission areas where he focused on space control and overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities including satellite acquisition, launch, operations, and associated staff work for both the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). 

Prior to assuming the PEO role, Davis served as the Senior Material Leader for the Strategic Systems Acquisition Delta within SSC’s Military Satellite Communications and Precision, Navigation, and Timing (MCPNT). In this role, he directed a combined team of military, government civilian, and contract personnel in the development and acquisition of the nation’s most critical strategic space capabilities for users across the National Security Space and Strategic Command communities.

With broad experience in areas connected to Space Sensing’s portfolio, Davis confidently expressed to those under his leadership the promising future they share in advancing current and new capabilities, including many initiated and executed by Denaro during his time while leading the program office.

During Denaro’s tenure, Space Sensing completed SSC’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation with GEO-6, providing persistent missile warning and launch detection crucial to national defense and deterrence. The final SBIRS GEO-6 satellite successfully reached operational acceptance three weeks ahead of schedule in March, completing the SBIRS GEO constellation. The SBIRS GEO works in concert with the Defense Support Program (DSP) constellation to provide missile warning capabilities by detecting missile launches, space liftoffs, and nuclear detonations.

Additionally, the team developed SSC’s medium Earth orbit (MEO) missile track custody program, which began as a demonstration, to a sprint event with space industry members. From that event, the program office went on to produce - from the digital track custody critical design review - the tangible fielding of the Epoch 1 space and ground systems. The first delivery of the missile warning and tracking system, Epoch 1, is planned for fiscal years 2026 and 2027. This missile track custody program delivers the latest Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) sensing technology into an entirely new satellite constellation in MEO and supports SSC’s intent to deliver satellites every three years in Epochs, incrementally building capability and robustness over time.

In the last year, the Space Sensing’s program office accelerated its posture in supporting the warfighter by redefining its mission to outpace the threat by pivoting the legacy OPIR warning mission into a more resilient missile warning, tracking, and defense (MW/MT/MD) mission. In addition, the program developed the integrated plan to acquire the MW/MT/MD expanded mission architecture by establishing the Combined Program Office (CPO) with the Missile Defense Agency and the Space Development Agency to concurrently field integrated low Earth orbit (LEO), MEO, Geosynchronous orbit (GEO), polar, and ground capabilities.

This accelerated pace fields many warfighting capabilities. Among them include the Wide-Field-of View (WFOV) satellite, which launched last summer and is providing imagery for calibration, operating as an early warning satellite to detect ballistic missile launches and its infrared detectors help to identify heat from missile engines.

Denaro departs SSC with the honor of receiving the Lt. Gen. John W. O’Neil Award, presented by the Air and Space Forces Association, General Schriever Chapter for being an outstanding senior leader, before going on to serve as a senior military advisor for the Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force in Arlington, Virginia.

Space Sensing is one of five SSC program executive offices and is responsible for delivering space-based MW/MT/MD capabilities; space-based environmental monitoring (SBEM) capabilities; and other tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, ensuring end-to-end mission integration. Space Sensing mission areas include next-generation overhead persistent infrared satellites and wide field of view missile warning; modernization of ground missile warning infrastructure; advances in space weather monitoring; and systemwide digitization.