The US Space Force created a unit, the 19th Space Defense Squadron, to monitor activity in the region beyond Earth’s geosynchronous orbit, to the Moon and beyond.
18th SDS Commander Lt. Col. Matt Lintker confirmed the launch of the task force during a panel discussion at the intelligence and defense-focused C4ISRNet conference held virtually this week.
Lintker said the 19th SDS will be tasked with monitoring the area of space farther than our planet’s geosynchronous equatorial orbit, a region called “xGEO” space. The Space Force is primarily concerned with the operation and defense of its satellites for communication and navigation purposes, but it also keeps an eye on space for any military activity by foreign adversaries and also tracks space junk that might pose a risk to US interests.
Space Force also works closely with NASA, providing airspace security, search and rescue capabilities for the crew of the International Space Station, and more. In return, NASA conducts scientific research on behalf of the military. While NASA hopes to team up with private companies to colonize the Moon, the Space Force must also expand its remit further into cislunar space to support future missions and capabilities.
“As NASA’s human presence expands beyond the ISS to the lunar surface, cislunar and interplanetary destinations, and the US Space Force organizes, trains and equips to provide the resources needed to protect and defend vital U.S. interests in and beyond Earth orbit, new collaborations will be essential to operate securely on these distant borders,” according to the MoU. [PDF] signed in 2020 by Jim Bridenstine, then NASA Administrator, and General John Raymond, Chief of Space Force Operations.
Efforts to launch the 19th SDS are managed by Space Systems Command. The unit will operate out of Dahlgren Naval Base in Virginia alongside the 18th Space Defense Squadron.
Space Operations Command public affairs chief Mike Pierson said the latest squadron was established on April 6 and will replace the Detachment 1 team of the 8th Space Defense Squadron, based at Space Force Base Peterson, in Colorado.
“19 SDS is tasked with providing continuous space domain awareness (SDA) to government, civilian and international users and maintaining continuous and transparent SDA to ensure global freedom of action in space,” Pierson said in a statement to Breaking Defense.
“Our goal is to provide fundamental SDA in all regimes. Currently, we do not have sensors or systems with dedicated xGEO mission responsibility. However, we are keenly interested in innovative approaches to ensure freedom of access and understanding for the United States and our allies in all orbital regimes, including beyond GEO.”
US Space Force and Space Operations Command were not immediately available for comment. ®
PS: That’s right, scientists have recommended that NASA take a deep look… at the seventh planet in the solar system.