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Natsios Young Architects

30 April 2002. Thanks to RC.

RC provides:

The basic scoop with Buckley, located east of Denver in Aurora, Colo., is that it is the largest consolidated intelligence base in the western hemisphere for joint use of the National Reconnaissance Office and National Security Agency. It has 13 radomes, six at the main site, and dual clusters of four and three radomes to the east of the main field. The six radomes in the main field are apparently interspersed between those that support downloading of two generations of infrared satellite watching for missile launches -- the older Defense Support Program and the new Star-Wars-related Space-Based Infrared System-High (SBIRS-High) -- and a group of unacknowledged radomes that download information from the Jumpseat and Mercury classes of signals intelligence satellite. One of the cluster of radomes to the east is probably a download station called "Ranger", used in the Navy's follow-on to the White Cloud intelligence program -- at least according to researcher Duncan Campbell, who visited Buckley in July. ...

Incidentally, Bill S. and I figured there were probably at least 10,000 people doing intelligence-related work around Buckley, because the ADF portion of the base employs at least 4000, and new Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, and TRW facilities to the west of the base appear to employ well over 5000. But the Denver Post said this morning that as many as 65,000 people have jobs that are Buckley-related (!!! - does this number include retail businesses serving Buckley?), a number that amounts to one-fourth of the citizens of Aurora.

Which leads us neatly on to Buckley. Der Spiegel cited the role of a major satellite ground station in Buckley, Colorado as being why the German foreign service was revising its videoconferencing plans. The magazine quoted a source as saying that by going through Buckley they might as well hold their video conferences in Langley.

The Denver Business Journal comes up with some useful information on the upgraded Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado Springs. It gathers information from a fleet of satellites that intercept communications and monitor radar signals, its ostensible role being one of military monitoring (unimportant stuff like missile launches, that kind of crap). But, says the Journal, intelligence experts "are relatively certain that the covered dishes monitor several key communications spy satellites operated by the National Reconnaissance Office or NRO.

"Colorado is a hub for the nation's intelligence-gathering mission. It supports thousands of federal and private-sector jobs and likely brings billions of dollars quietly into the state each year." Well if you were the German foreign ministry considering whacking your discussions around the globe via satellite, you might be a tad concerned about that, mightn't you?

The 2nd Space Warning Squadron (SWS) is located at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.

In terms of space-based missile warning, the 2nd Space Warning Squadron represents the convergence of both past and future. With more than 30 years of excellence in the Defense Support Program , the squadron launched the nation's newest line of defense, the Space-Based Infrared System on Dec. 17, 2001.

The Squadron's current mission is to maintain satellite control authority for the DSP satellite constellation and report ballistic missile/space launches, nuclear detonations and infrared data of intelligence value to unified commands, JCS and National Command Authorities. Moreover, the squadron is the 21st Space Wing's largest ground station for DSP operations.

THE 2nd SWS...

* Processes satellite information

* Performs satellite command and control functions

* Monitors and maintains data processing equipment


The unit is comprised of approximately 260 people and is composed of Air Force personnel and military members from Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the Air Force Reserve.

Working hand in hand with the military, approximately 300 civilians support the 2nd SWS mission.


As a space-based infrared surveillance system, DSP uses satellites operating in geosynchronous equatorial orbit more than 22,000 miles above the earth. The system was designed to detect intercontinental ballistic missiles, space launches and nuclear detonations in near-real time.


This system is the nation's newest space-based missile warning system. SBIRS Increment 1 consolidates the existing ground stations into one Mission Control Station, while using the current DSP constellation. The future SBIRS increments will feature both low and highly elliptical orbit satellites, as well as GEO satellites, to create a synergy that significantly enhances both the strategic and theater missions. The system was designed not only to consolidate existing DSP ground stations into one Mission Control Station, but to perform the additional missions of technical intelligence, national missile defense and battle-space characterization. In addition, system design allows the 2nd SWS to maintain satellite control for both DSP and future SBIRS satellites.


A distinct feature of the squadron is the "huge golf balls," which house it's antennas. Each antenna is 60 feet in diameter and weighs more than 55 tons, while the radomes are more than 70 feet in diameter and weigh more than 90 tons. The antennas transmit and receive data to and from the satellite, while the purpose of the radomes is to protect the antennas from weather.

The satellite sends mission data through the antenna to the Satellite Readout Station . The SRS formats the data and sends it to the Data Reduction Center for processing. Computers in the DRC record and extract data for use in the Satellite Operations Center. Crews in the SOC evaluate the data and electronically transmit launch reports for command assessment to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Space Command Missile Warning Center, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo.


The squadron began operations under the 14th Aerospace Force, Aerospace Defense Command on July 1, 1971 as the 2nd Communications Squadron. When ADCOM deactivated in December 1979, the unit became part of the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division, Strategic Air Command. In May, 1983 the squadron became one of the first units to transfer from SAC to the 1st Space Wing, Air Force Space Command.

Nearly 10 years later the unit combined with the 2162d Communications Squadron and became part of the 21st Space Wing when the 1st Space Wing and 3d Space Support Wing inactivated and merged on May 15, 1992.

In May, 1993 the unit was given its current unit designation, the 2nd Space Warning Squadron. Most recently the squadron merged with Detachment 1, 21st Space Wing on 11 May 1999. This merger marked a new era for space-based missile warning at the 2nd SWS. Nonetheless, it's motto remains the same "Ils ne passeront pas," "They shall not pass."


The photograph below shows by red dots the three presumed locations of NRO antennas:
the Main Site at the upper left, a smaller secondary Site 2 to its right and a small possible
Site 3 at the lower right -- Site 3 may be an unrelated facility.
Main site below
Site 2 below Possible site 3 below