By Jennifer Thibault
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The members of the 1st Space Operations Squadron gained a new mission Jan. 31 when they accepted satellite control authority of the Advanced Technology Risk Reduction satellite, commonly referred to as ATRR.
ATRR is the newest space-based space situational awareness platform to ensure national security interests in space, according to the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Lorenzo Bradley.
“Our leaders have been asking for more and better space surveillance data, and challenged Air Force Space Command to seek out and leverage non-traditional SSA capabilities. One SOPS has stepped up and proven that we’re more than able to accept that challenge,” said Colonel Bradley.
ATRR was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., May 5, 2009, as an experimental satellite for the Missile Defense Agency. After undergoing testing with the MDA for 20 months the satellite was determined to be of operational use as a space surveillance sensor and therefore transferred to Air Force Space Command. As the command’s expert in conducting on-orbit space surveillance, 1 SOPS now operates the system.
“One SOPS continues to be the command’s leader in on-orbit SSA bringing ATRR onboard will further enhance 1 SOPS’ capabilities and contributions to the broader SSA mission,” said Col. John Shaw, 50th Operations Group commander.
This isn’t the first time 1 SOPS has gained a new mission from the MDA. The unit operated the Mid-course Space Experiment from 2000-2008, also using the platform as a dedicated space surveillance asset.
Previously a unit without a satellite to call its own, 1 SOPS continues to expand its operational depth. The unit expects to accept satellite control authority from SMC’s Space Superiority Systems Directorate of the first Space-Based Space Surveillance satellite this month.
SBSS will expand the unit’s ability to provide space-based space situational awareness through routine monitoring of objects in space, reducing the chance of an on-orbit collision. The addition of this mission comes at a historic time for the unit as it was activated 50 years ago as the 1st Aerospace Control Squadron. Due to this milestone, the unit recently hosted a heritage dinner to celebrate their storied history in the Air Force’s space arena.