15th Space Surveillance Squadron

Activated May 26, 2022, 15th Space Surveillance Squadron operates the Maui Space Surveillance Complex, a strategically located national asset at the 10,023 foot-summit of Haleakala on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The MSSC is host to small, medium, and large-aperture tracking optics, including the DoD’s largest optical telescope designed for tracking and imaging satellites, with visible and infrared sensors to collect data on near-Earth and deep-space objects. The Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance Systems, located at Maui, Socorro, and Diego Garcia, are also under the 15 SPSS. The GEODSS Systems play a vital role in tracking deep space objects.

The 15 SPSS is unique as it fuses Space Domain Awareness Operations, and SDA Research and Development. 15 SPSS is a component of Space Delta 2 and also operates experimental systems under the Air Force Research Laboratory.


The mission of 15 SPSS is to develop, assess, deliver, and operate cutting-edge SDA capabilities to support warfighter needs. 15 SPSS has two primary mission areas: SDA operations and SDA R&D. To accomplish these efforts, 15 SPSS is comprised of a blended organizational structure with assigned personnel from Space Operations Command and AFRL. The true strength of 15 SPSS is derived from this fusion of mission operations and R&D and is the center of excellence for all ground-based optical SDA in the U.S. Space Force.


The AEOS 3.6 m and other smaller telescope systems (contributing sensors) validate and develop advanced technology for transition to the dedicated sensor baseline while also executing a contributing SDA mission on behalf of the USSF. These contributing sensors support experiments and leverage R&D capabilities.

There are also three operational Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) Systems that report to the 15th SPSS. The GEODSS sites are located in Maui, Hawaii; White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The GEODSS systems (dedicated sensors) play a vital role in tracking deep space objects. More than 2,500 objects, including geostationary communication satellites, are in deep space orbits varying in altitude from 10,000 to 45,000 kilometers from earth. These telescopes are able to “see” objects 10,000 times dimmer than the human eye can detect.

Research thrusts at the AMOS site include satellite detection and identification, atmospheric compensation and resolved imaging, astrodynamics and orbital metrics, sensor development, laser propagation through the Earth’s atmosphere, database cataloging of satellite images, and high-performance computer modeling and simulation.

The Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) is the “Vanguard Center of DoD High Performance Computing (HPC),” with a mission to evaluate and optimize early production HPC technology and provide breakthrough software solutions in support of DoD research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) programs. Located in the Maui Research and Technology Park with high-bandwidth connectivity to MSSC, other Hawaiian Islands, and the continental U.S., MHPCC investigates emerging HPC technology, provides HPC-backed solutions for high-priority defense programs, and lowers barriers to high-productivity computing for the DoD RDT&E community.


The Department of Defense (DoD) began conducting research and development and operational missions on Mt. Haleakala, Maui, in the early 1960’s at the Advanced Research Projects Agency Midcourse Observation Station, which is known today as the Maui Space Surveillance Complex. Originally built as an electro-optical observation platform for missile tests, the site has evolved into a world-class observatory supporting missions in space control, laser propagation, and other related fields.

In the early 1990’s, the Maui High Performance Computing Center was established to provide high-performance computing capabilities to the MSSC as a distribution center within the High Performance Computing Modernization Program.  The site now operates as a hybrid R&D and operational site executing a mix of research, operations, and customer program support for the SDA mission.


The 15 SPSS is located on Maui, Hawaii, with additional GEODSS systems in Socorro, and Diego Garcia.


The primary missions of the detachments are to detect, track and identify all tasked space objects within its area of coverage. The dets. usually provide 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 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. and to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. 

15th Space Surveillance Squadron, Detachment 1: Is a dedicated space surveillance unit in the northwest corner of the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range, approximately 30 miles southeast of the town of Socorro, N.M. The detachment was the first operational site in the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance system. 

15th Space Surveillance Squadron, Detachment 2: is a dedicated Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) space surveillance unit on the island of Diego Garcia, in the British Indian Ocean Territories. 

(Current as of July 2023)