20th Space Control Squadron, Det 3

Detachment 3, 20th Space Control Squadron is a dedicated Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) space surveillance unit on the island of Maui, Hawaii atop the 10.023 foot summit of Mt. Haleakala, a dormant volcano.

The primary mission of the detachment is to detect, track and identify all tasked space objects within its area of coverage. The unit usually provides data on deep space objects in the orbits from 3,000 to 22,000 miles, although it has a limited near earth detection capability. Satellite information is provided to the Joint Space Operations Center and 18th Space Control Squadron Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. and to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.

The detachment is one of three worldwide GEODSS sites. The GEODSS site performs its mission using three very powerful, low light, electro-optical telescopes with a 1.2-meter aperture and a two-degree field of view. GEODSS telescopes primarily operate between civil sunset and civil sunrise, just before all ambient light is out of the atmosphere. The isolated mountaintop of Haleakala provides minimal light pollution and ideal weather conditions as the complex is generally above the prevailing cloud deck.

The detachment was activated on 1 June 1979 as Operating Location AA of the 46th Aerospace Defense Wing to aid in the, then named, Maui Optical Tracking and Identification Facility (MOTIF) transition into the North American Aerospace Defense Command/Aerospace Defense Command, spacetrack network. On 1 October 1981, the unit became Detachment 3, 1st Strategic Aerospace Division, Strategic Air Command. Maui's GEODSS system achieved Initial Operating Capability on 1 October 1982. The detachment became part of the 1st Space Wing, Air Force Space Command on 1 May 1983. On 1 February 1990, it was assigned to the 18th Space Surveillance Squadron at Peterson Air Force, CO. Both the detachment and its parent squadron were reassigned from the wing to the 73d Space Group on 15 May 1992, when the group was activated and assumed responsibility for all space surveillance units. In July 1995, the 18 SPSS relocated to Edwards AFB. The group was deactivated in May 1995 and all units, including the 18 SPSS, were assigned to the 21st Space Wing. In 2003, the 18 SPSS was renamed the 18th Space Control Squadron. On June 1, 2004, the detachment was reassigned to the 21st Operations Group, 21st Space Wing due to the deactivation of the 18th Space Control Squadron. As of April 2016, the GEODSS detachments became part of the 20th Space Control Squadron, dedicated to worldwide 24-hour space domain characterization. The site is operated and maintained by contract workers. The single Air Force Detachment Commander assigned has the primary responsibility for ensuring that the mission is accomplished and the contractor's work performance is satisfactory.

Det 3, 20 SPCS is a tenant unit at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex (MSSC) hosted by Det 15, AFRL (AFMC). Transition of host responsibilities from AFSPC to AFMC took place 1 October, 2000. While 20 SPCS Det 3 retains responsibility for conducting and maintaining the GEODSS mission, the facilities as well as the Maui Space Surveillance System (MSSS) and Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS) missions, comprising the remainder of the MSSC, are the responsibility of the commander, Det 15, AFRL.

The detachment sits atop of Mt. Haleakala on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Maui which is 100 miles southeast of Honolulu and Hickam AFB on Oahu, Hawaii. In addition to the Mt. Haleakala observatory, where the operational mission is performed and applicable quality assurance evaluations are accomplished, the detachment maintains an administrative office at sea level in Kihei.