Space Systems Command Celebrates 2nd Anniversary with Emphasis on Empowerment and Innovation

  • Published
  • By Linda Kane, SSC Public Affairs
From locations across the country and strategic points around the world, the notably diverse and innovative personnel who comprise Space Systems Command (SSC) celebrated their two-year anniversary as a U.S. Space Force field command with an in-person and virtual ceremony held at SSC headquarters at Los Angeles Air Force Base on August 14.

Praising the command’s many achievements over the past year, Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, SSC commander, delivered a spirited expression of thanks to the 15,000 strong workforce who support SSC’s mission of rapidly developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding, and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities.

“It is incredible how far this command has come in just two short years,” he said. “And I am so excited about where we are headed.”

Guetlein recognized the contributions of all departments and personnel within the command, from those who provide daily operational support such as medical and childcare to those who negotiate, deliver, and sustain space-based capabilities that make our military stronger and our nation more secure.

“It doesn’t matter what uniform you do, or don’t, wear: we are all Guardians, we are all experts in our particular fields, and we all play a vital role in countering the threat,” said Guetlein, addressing SSC’s unique demographic of Guardians, Airmen, civilians and contractors. He also shouted out the many partners that contribute to SSC’s mission success, including federally funded research and development centers, industry collaborators, legislative supporters and, notably, the spouses, family members and friends of SSC personnel.

SSC was stood up on August 13, 2021 to accelerate space-based innovation in response to emerging threats from adversarial nations and pacing challengers. In its second year of operation, the command has expanded from 20 to 29 operating locations and continues to grow its innovation footprint through its exploit-buy-build approach to acquisition.

“This command is getting after the threat like nobody’s business,” said Guetlein. He credited much of the progress to the command’s emphasis on unity of effort and its spirit of empowerment at every level.

“We have been pushing authority down as far as we can,” he said. “It is orders of magnitude better than it has ever been before and what that means is that we have agility, we have speed, and we have room to take risks.”

Guetlein applauded a number of programs initiated in SSC’s second year to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and provide a forum for iterating. These include an open call for innovative ideas from SSC’s workforce through its Fight Tonight competition, introduced last year. More than 80 actionable proposals were submitted from SSC and associated personnel. The top three were immediately funded.

“China is experimenting, exploring, and creating integrated capabilities with the absolute intent of denying our ability to use space for peace or for defense,” said Guetlein. “They are moving fast, so we have to move faster.”

While industry, allied nations and academic partnerships are foundational to SSC’s mission of moving faster, Guetlein applauded in-house initiatives to goose innovation even faster. He pointed to the opening of SpaceDEN at SSC headquarters in April and shared plans to build another hub in Colorado Springs.

“We’re actually bringing the digital models from our industry partners, and the digital models from operations, and the physics models of space, and we are flying them all against each other in a live virtual construction environment,” said Guetlein. “We’re iterating on those designs to make sure that the designs we actually build are the most optimized designs possible. And then we’re flying those in exercises and war games.”

The recently opened Immersive Digital Environment is another in-house SSC initiative fueling innovation. It provides a 3D gaming environment for Guardians and Airmen to explore and iterate next generation warfighting. It’s located at SSC headquarters and, like SpaceDEN, plans are underway to duplicate the facility in Colorado Springs. In Florida, SSC’s workforce has access to FORGE, a physical space dedicated to exploring cyber solutions, manufacturing, and more.

“FORGE is a hub where you can iterate and advance any idea you have,” said Guetlein. “If it’s a cyber idea, we have the entire network you can play on. If it’s something you want to manufacture, we have the manufacturing equipment and know-how to do that.“

“These locations were all stood up through your innovation,” noted Guetlein. “Nobody told us to go do that. You innovated on those ideas and built them.” These and many other initiatives, such as the fourth annual Hack-A-Sat competition, which recently concluded with a final championship event at the Def Con hackers convention in Las Vegas, are generating enormous amounts of innovation for the SSC “fight tonight” pursuit.

“You guys are killing it in that area,” Guetlein shared with the SSC team. “You’re taking systems from the 1960s and making them do things we could never have imagined they could do when they were originally built.”

With just two years under its belt, what does the future hold for SSC? If year two is any indication, the U.S. and its allied partners can expect even more innovation, even greater speed, and an aligned acquisition and operating environment that strives for continuous improvement of work/life culture across the command.