Space Warfighter Talk
Lt Col Michael "Macho" Mariner
Commander, 2nd Space Warning Squadron
(U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Haley N. Blevins)
Thursday, 25 May 2023
5 PM EDT / 3 PM MDT
The 2d Space Warning Squadron (2 SWS) is a United States Air Force missile warning squadron, located at Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado.
The mission of the 2 SWS is to defend and deliver trusted, persistent space-based global missile warning and battlespace awareness in support of U.S. and allied forces.
EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES
The 2 SWS operates two satellite constellations. The Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites are a key part of North America's early warning systems. In their 22,300-mile, geosynchronous orbits, DSP satellites protect the United States and its allies by detecting missile launches, space launches and nuclear detonations. DSP satellites use an infrared sensor to detect heat from missile and booster plumes against the Earth's background. In 1995, technological advancements were made to ground processing systems enhancing detection capability of smaller missiles to provide improved warning of attack by short-range missiles against U.S. and allied forces overseas.
The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program is the follow-on capability to DSP and was designed to provide a seamless operational transition from DSP to SBIRS and meet jointly-defined requirements of the defense and intelligence communities in support of the missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence mission areas. The program consists of the space segment of Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) sensors riding on host satellites, legacy DSP satellites and the associated world-wide deployed ground systems. The SBIRS Mission Control Station (MCS), located at Buckley SFB, manages the constellation of HEO sensors, GEO satellites and the legacy DSP satellites. The SBIRS ground system consolidates the legacy DSP, HEO and GEO ground systems from three locations into one primary and one backup ground station.
SBIRS sensors are designed to provide greater flexibility and sensitivity than the DSP infrared sensor, allowing SBIRS to perform a broader set of missions. These enhanced capabilities result in improved prediction accuracy for global, strategic and tactical warfighters.
The spacecraft bus consists of a militarized, radiation-hardened spacecraft, providing power, attitude control, command and control and a communications subsystem. The infrared payload consists of two sensors; a scanner and a step-starer. The scanning sensor continuously scans the earth to provide 24/7 global strategic missile warning capability. Data from the scanner also contributes to theater and intelligence missions. The step-staring sensor, with its highly-agile and highly-accurate pointing and control system, provides coverage for theater missions and intelligence areas of interest with its fast revisit rates and high sensitivity.