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Combat Art Articles

A Legacy of Airmen Innovation in Space Operations

  • Published

Innovative Space Operations painting


Lt. Col. Warren Neary
Medium: Oil
Date: 2018

Air Force space capabilities and the Airmen who operate them provide the foundation to our nation’s ability to deter aggression and effect global impact across the entire range of civil and military operations, from humanitarian and disaster relief through major combat.

Highlighted in this painting are a few of today’s pioneers in military space operations to include General Bernard Schriever, the architect of the Air Force's military space program.  Major General Frank Casserino, the father of the Air Force Reserve organization in support of the Air Force space program.  Finally, NASA astronaut and Air Force Colonel Eileen Collins, served as the first female space shuttle pilot and later shuttle commander; she was also selected as the second female Air Force test pilot.

Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen have provided a strong presence in Air Force space operations for decades. Today, Airmen of the Command’s 310th Space Wing continue this legacy.  Originally established as the 310th Space Group on September 1, 1997, the unit received re-designation as the 310th Space Wing on Mar 7, 2008 with all of the command’s space operations assets under one organizational structure.

Air Force Reserve Command’s space operations include space operations training, satellite operations, including the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, the Global Positioning System constellation, and the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) system. Reserve Airmen also support the Joint Space Operations Center, and conduct testing and assessment of space systems.

Finally, they perform command and control and strategic and tactical warning of missile and space launches, and support operations to monitor satellite communications (SATCOM) links to intercept and geo-locate SATCOM jammers, sources of electromagnetic jammers, sources of electromagnetic interference, or other signals of interest for prosecution as targets or other higher authority action.

On the left in this painting, today’s Airmen from the 8th and 2nd Space Warning Squadrons operate the SBIRS mission that includes providing a seamless operational transition from the Defense Support Program to the nation's next-generation overhead persistent Infrared sensors.  This mission supports missile early warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence. On the bottom left, Airmen with the 26th and 527th Space Aggressor Squadrons conduct space operations in GPS ramp jamming to train Airmen in defensive space operations.  On the lower right, Airmen from the 16th and 380th Space Control Squadrons de-conflict friendly electromagnetic interference and identify adversaries.  Once identified, platforms such as an MQ-9 Reaper are used to eliminate the threat.

Innovation is an integral part of our future, and it comes from the diverse experiences our Citizen Airmen bring to the mission from various communities and industries across the nation.