Peterson Air Force Base   Right Corner Banner
Join the Air Force

Library > Fact Sheets > 21st Space Wing


Posted 9/23/2015 Printable Fact Sheet

The 21st Space Wing, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., is the Air Force's only organization providing missile warning and space control to unified commanders and combat forces worldwide.

Our Mission: Execute global capabilities to defend the homeland and secure space for our nation and allies

Our Vision: Unrivaled space superiority--Driving excellence and innovation Today and Tomorrow

We are located in seven countries, crossing 13 time zones, consisting of five groups, wing staff agencies, and 38 units at 21 locations. We literally cover the world with our operations.

The 21st SW provides missile warning and space control to North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Strategic Command through a network of command and control units and ground based sensors operated by geographically separated units around the world.

Provides early warning of strategic and theater ballistic missile attacks and foreign space launches.
About 4,300 government and contractor personnel detect, track and catalog more than 23,000 man-made objects in space, from those in near-Earth orbit to objects up to 22,300 miles above the earth's surface
Explores counterspace warfighting technologies in the field
Hosts 53 mission partners including HQ NORAD, HQ NORTHCOM, HQ Air Force Space Command, the 302nd Airlift Wing, and SMDC/ARSTRAT
Operates and supports Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station; Thule Air Base, Greenland; Clear AFS, Alaska, Cape Cod AFS, Mass., and Cavalier AFS, N.D.
Provides community support to the 50th Space Wing, Schriever AFB, Colo.
Provides community support to the Colorado Springs and the Denver areas.

Members of the 21st SW operate and maintain a complex system of U.S. and foreign-based radars that detect and track ballistic missile launches, launches of new space systems, and provide data on foreign ballistic missile events.

Today, ballistic missile warning is critically important to U.S. military forces. At least 20 nations currently have nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, and the technology to deliver them over long distances. According to intelligence estimates, several third world countries will develop the technology and capability to launch ICBMs at the United States.

The 21st Operations Group manages all operation units in the 21st Space Wing.

MISSILE WARNING (ground based)
The wing' s ground-based radars are comprised of a sea-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, warning system--Pave PAWS; a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, or BMEWS; and a Perimeter Attack Radar Characterization System, or PARCS.

SLBM warning units are the 6th SWS, Cape Cod AFS, Mass., and the 7th SWS, Beale AFB, Calif. Their mission is mainly to watch America's coasts for incoming sea-launched or intercontinental ballistic missiles, and warn NORAD/NORTHCOM and the POTUS.
The wing's two BMEWS radar units are the 12th SWS, Thule AB, and the 13th SWS at Clear AFS. The 21st SW also has a detachment at RAF Fylingdales, U.K., to coordinate cooperative missile warning and space surveillance with RAF counterparts.

The wing's PARCS unit is the 10th SWS, Cavalier AFS, N.D.

Space surveillance is a critical element of the space control mission and will be vitally important to support future theater missile operations and assured availability of U.S. space forces. Operation Desert Storm proved once again that whoever controls the high ground has definite military advantage, and space is the ultimate high ground.

In addition to its wartime missions, space surveillance is important during peacetime. As part of the space surveillance mission, the wing operates surveillance units. More than 23,000 manmade objects in orbit around the earth, ranging in size from a baseball to the International Space Station, are regularly tracked. Knowing the orbits of those objects is essential to prevent collisions when a new satellite is launched.

The 20th Space Control Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla., provides dedicated active radar space surveillance. In addition, other collateral and contributing missile warning and research radars are used to support the surveillance mission.

The 76th SPCS and 4th SPCS at Peterson AFB are responsible for delivering offensive counterspace capabilities, to rapidly achieve flexible and versatile effects in support of global and theater campaigns.

The wing also controls and operates optical space tracking telescope systems under the 21st Operations Group. The Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system, or GEODSS, is operated by Detachment 1, Socorro, N.M.; Detachment 2, Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territories; and Detachment 3, Maui, Hawaii.

As host for the Peterson Complex, the 21st Mission Support Group provides complete logistical and base support services for Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain AFS, and certain logistics and support functions for Schriever AFB, Colo.

Through these units and the 21st Medical Group, the wing also helps meet the medical, housing, educational, recreational and family support needs of assigned people, local retirees and their families. It also provides such services as personnel, security, civil engineering, communications and computer support, contracting, transportation, flight line services, supply and maintenance.

In addition, the wing provides mission and personnel support to all geographically separated units and host base support at Thule Air Base, Greenland and Clear Air Force Station, Alaska.

The wing's 721st Mission Support Group is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of facilities and equipment in Cheyenne Mountain AFS. This responsibility requires civil engineering, computer and communications and security support.

The wing's 821st Air Base Group operates and maintains Thule Air Base, Greenland, in support of missile warning, space surveillance and satellite command and control operations missions. The group provides security, communications, civil engineering, personnel, service, logistic and medical support to remote active duty units in a combined U.S. , Canadian, Danish and Greenlandic environment of approximately 700 military, civilian and contractor personnel.

The approximately 1,900 military members, 1,100 Air Force civilians and 1,300 contractor employees of the 21st SW around the world are proud of their role in performing these vitally important missile warning and space control missions, and in supporting the military people and families assigned to its units and bases.

For a listing of the units and their missions, click here.

21st Space Wing 
Office of the Commander
775 Loring Ave., Suite 205
Peterson AFB, CO, 80914

 Inside Peterson AFB

ima cornerSearch

ima cornerOrganizations


Site Map      Contact Us     Questions     Security and Privacy notice     E-publishing  
Suicide Prevention    SAPR   IG   EEO   Accessibility/Section 508   No FEAR Act