Commanding Space: The Story Behind the Space Force

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The United States Space Force (USSF) is the space service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, one of the eight U.S. uniformed services, and the world’s first and currently only independent space force.

The U.S. Space Force is a military service branch, and along with sister-branch, the U.S. Air Force, is part of the Department of the Air Force, one of the three civilian-led military departments within the Department of Defense. The Space Force, through the Department of the Air Force, is overseen by the Secretary of the Air Force, a civilian political appointee who reports to the secretary of defense, and is appointed by the president with Senate confirmation.

The military head of the Space Force is the chief of space operations who is the most senior Space Force officer, unless a Space Force officer is serving as either the chairman or vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chief of space operations exercises supervision over the Space Force’s units and serves as one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Space Force is the smallest U.S. armed service, consisting of 2,501 guardians and operating 77 spacecraft. Major spacecraft and systems include the Global Positioning System constellation, military satellite communications constellations, Boeing X-37B spaceplane, U.S. missile warning system, U.S. space surveillance network, and the satellite control network. Under the Goldwater–Nichols Act, the Space Force is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping space forces, which are then presented to the unified combatant commands, predominantly to United States Space Command, for operational employment.

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