30 April 2002. Thanks to RC.
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,
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.
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.
DEFENSE SUPPORT PROGRAM
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.
SPACE-BASED INFRARED SYSTEM
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
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."