Transcon Space Support Net
Historical Information about the Transcon Space Support Net
The Transcon Space Support Net (TSSN), formerly known as Worldwide Space Support Net (WSSN) and before that the Worldwide Space Division Net (WSDN), was created in 1978 by the USAF MARS Base Support Team at what was then Los Angeles Air Force Station. At that time the USAF Space Division Commander was responsible for the development and operations of all aspects of the DOD space program. Under the leadership of AFA6YJ the then BST Manager, WSDN was conceived as a result of a brief, but critical satellite communications breakdown, shortly after the launch of a DOD mission. The objective of the net was to provide the Space Division Commander a contingency HF communications link to his subordinate units, including the launch sites at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg, the Satellite Test Center in Sunnyvale as well as the remote satellite tracking stations around the world. The Los Angeles Air Force Base MARS Station, AGA6LA, was designated the net control station and conducted monthly exercises on the seven specifically assigned frequencies to maintain readiness, establishing practice phone patches between Command Posts. Generally multiple frequencies were used simultaneously to ensure good propagation to the various sites. AF MARS and the net were written into the Space Division War and Mobilization Plan and we participated in certain Command Post exercises. At the peak of its activities in the early-80's, the Worldwide Space Division Net counted base and affiliate stations in Los Angeles, Patrick, Vandenberg, Houston, Edwards, Sunnyvale, Guam, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Greenland. When the Space Shuttle started flying, Space Division assets supported, and we likewise incorporated launch and recovery of the Shuttle into the net activities. AGA6LA called a net that fateful morning of the Challenger disaster. We were also there when Columbia tragically broke apart 16 minutes prior to touch down. Since those early days, many things have changed. Deployment of Space Division developed communications satellites like DSCS, reliably inteconnected the Remote Tracking Stations with Sunnyvale, and made the perceived operational need for an HF backup system seem less important. The mission of Space Division evolved into focusing only on military space systems acquisition with the operational responsibilities, both launch and on-orbit, becoming the mission of the Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs. Space Division's name also changed and therefore the name of the net. With the downsizing of the military came less budget for MARS station maintenance as well. The net evolved to affiliate station net controls supporting Shuttle launch and recovery plus a weekly training drill to test propagation and phone patch capabilities between command posts when available. With the emphasis of AF MARS shifting to emergency communications, the net added stations who could support any Air Force or NASA facility, as well as key stations to provide HF relay when propagation was tough. Any interested AF MARS member could join, especially ones who are or could be part of the Base Support Team of an Air Force or NASA facility. In April 2007 WSSN merged with the Transcon Voice Net and the name was changed to the Transcon Space Support Net. The most recent change was Chief's Operational Directive 2010-1, which established the USAF MARS Mission Support Net in lieu of the Transcon Space Support Net. The Mission Support Net shall continue to support U.S. Government space activities but shall also be available to support other U.S. Government operations, including contemporary military operations, consistent with the missions and guidance outlined in DoDI 4650.02.