An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

JFCC SPACE Hosts Inaugural Operator Talks

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, commander of U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), hosts an inaugural Commercial Space Operator Talks at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., May 8, 2013, to increase space situational awareness and collaboration. In attendance were international owners and operators of large satellite constellations, key U.S. national security partners, and Department of Defense space operators and decision makers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Levi Riendeau)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, commander of U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), hosts an inaugural Commercial Space Operator Talks at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., May 8, 2013, to increase space situational awareness and collaboration. In attendance were international owners and operators of large satellite constellations, key U.S. national security partners, and Department of Defense space operators and decision makers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Levi Riendeau)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, commander of U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), hosts an inaugural Commercial Space Operator Talks at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., May 8, 2013, to increase space situational awareness and collaboration. In attendance were international owners and operators of large satellite constellations, key U.S. national security partners, and Department of Defense space operators and decision makers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Levi Riendeau)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, commander of U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), hosts an inaugural Commercial Space Operator Talks at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., May 8, 2013, to increase space situational awareness and collaboration. In attendance were international owners and operators of large satellite constellations, key U.S. national security partners, and Department of Defense space operators and decision makers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Levi Riendeau)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In an effort to increase space situational awareness (SSA) and collaboration, the Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC SPACE) held its inaugural Commercial Space Operator Talks May 8, 2013.

In attendance were international owners and operators of large satellite constellations, key U.S. national security partners, and Department of Defense space operators and decision makers. The group hopes to meet biannually.

SSA is the foundation for all space operations and our national leadership, war fighters, and civil and commercial space operators depend on this resource.

"We have a need for partnerships that improve SSA. This conference strengthened the understanding for how the DoD, as well as our commercial partners perform SSA data sharing," said Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, commander of U.S. Strategic Command's JFCC SPACE and Air Force Space Command's 14th Air Force.

"With more than 60 nations operating in space, it has become a congested, contested and competitive domain," said Helms.

President Barack Obama's National Space Policy and the National Security Space Strategy promoted SSA with international and commercial partners in 2010 and 2011.

"No longer are we racing against an adversary; in fact, one of our central goals is to promote peaceful cooperation and collaboration in space, which not only will ward off conflict, but will help to expand our capacity to operate in orbit and beyond," said Obama.

Additionally, expanding DoD, civil and commercial cooperation and information exchange will likely reduce the chance of another catastrophic, in-orbit collision similar to the 2009 Iridium-Cosmos collision that produced 3,000 pieces of debris.

"Exchanging space flight data helps improve conjunction assessment and warning, with the goal of preventing potential collisions," said Helms.

Attendees learned about the JFCC SPACE mission, conjunction assessment, space flight safety, launch collision avoidance, and explored potential means to improve communication between them and the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), located here at Vandenberg AFB.

The group also received a tour of the JSpOC.

Through the JSpOC, JFCC SPACE commands and controls space forces and it is also the epicenter of the DoD's SSA mission. The JSpOC is also the means by which JFCC SPACE disseminates SSA information to commercial companies, other agencies and other countries.

The JSpOC directs space surveillance sensors to track objects in space ranging in size from as small as a golf ball to as large as the International Space Station.

Col. John Wagner, the JSpOC director, explained that the center tracks tens of thousands of man-made objects in both near-Earth and deep-space.

JFCC-SPACE maintains 38 SSA sharing agreements with private industry and two with other space-faring nations. In 2012, the JSpOC issued 10,000 conjunction warning notifications to satellite owners and operators.

"It was a highly successful day," said Helms. "For the overall benefit of our space mission, there is incredible value in strengthening our commercial and international partnerships in a manner that works for both them and for us."