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August 17, 2022 Launches update: U.S. Space Force takes command
The U.S. Space Force (USSF) officially took control of the nation’s military satellite communications this week (August 15, 2022) at a ceremony held at the Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado. The USSF is now in command of the Wideband Global Satcom and Defense Satellite Communications System constellations formerly under the control of the U.S. Army. The programs were moved to the USSF to consolidate the country’s military space programs under the newly formed armed branch, according to a press release.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Karbler, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, offered these remarks during the passing of the colors of the 53rd Signal Battalion to the Space Force:
This is a historic moment for the Department of Defense and military satellite communications as we bring all military SATCOM capabilities under one service for the first time ever.
The USSF will operate five satellite centers and four regional support centers. The move means that the Space Force is the new employer of 300 military personnel and 200 civilians, who formerly worked for the Army. Cool job change! All of the personnel will remain at their current stations despite the change in authority, though the sailors, soldiers and airmen will officially become USSF guardians over the next 12 months.
The Space Force described its new role this way:
With the official mission transfer, the 53rd SOPS is the only DOD organization that conducts payload and transmission control for the Defense Satellite Communications System and Wideband Global SATCOM Satellite constellations. These constellations provide mission-critical communications connectivity for users ranging from the president of the U.S. to interagency and international partners conducting global operations.
According to SpaceNews.com, $78 million was transferred to the USSF to fund five satellite operations centers and four regional support centers.
The decision to move command of the U.S. military communications satellites was made in 2021, but the transfer was delayed due to a budget battle in Congress.
Bottom line: It was another eventful week in the world of spaceflight. The week started with the U.S. Space Force announcing its official control of all military satellite communications on August 15. Then, on August 16, NASA surprised us with an Artemis 1 rollout. In Russia, on August 19, officials announced the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) followed by a rendering of their spacecraft. Finally, on August 22, NASA released plans to deorbit the International Space Station (ISS).