|7th Space Operations Squadron|
|Active||1942–1944; 1945–1949; 1949–1952; 1952–1954; 1969–1974; 1993–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Reserve Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Schriever AFB, Colorado|
|Motto(s)||First from the Stars|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|7th Space Operations Squadron emblem (approved 2 February 1994)|
|7th Special Operations Squadron emblem[note 1]|
|7th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron emblem (World War II)[note 2]|
The 7th Space Operations Squadron is a reserve associate unit that is integrated with the 1st Space Operations Squadron in operating the Multi-Mission Space Operations Center, a one-of-a-kind satellite operations center focused on rapidly fielding space technologies for warfighters.
The first predecessor of the 7th Squadron was the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron which was activated on 28 January 1942, at MacDill Field, Florida and assigned directly to Third Air Force. After a brief period at Savannah, Georgia, where Eighth Air Force was building up for its move to the European Theater of Operations, the squadron moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where it became part of the 2d Photographic Group.
The squadron's primary mission was to train aircrews in photographic reconnaissance. The squadron was primarily equipped with the F-4 and F-5 reconnaissance versions of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. In October 1943 the squadron moved with its parent 2d Group to Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma, where the Third Air Force Photographic Unit Training Center was located. The squadron was also called on to provide personnel for new reconnaissance units as they were activated. However, the Army Air Forces was finding that units like the 7th, based on rigid tables of organization were not well suited to the training mission. Accordingly, it reorganized its training activities into a functional system in which each base was organized into a separate numbered unit. On 1 May 1944, the unit was disbanded and its personnel and equipment, along with other photographic reconnaissance training and support units were used to form the 348th AAF Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Photo Reconnaissance).
The second predecessor of the squadron was the 7th Liaison Squadron, which was organized at Heidelberg, Germany as part of the occupation forces following World War II. At Heidelberg, the squadron replaced the 153d Liaison Squadron, which was inactivated a few weeks later in preparation for its transfer to the Mississippi National Guard. The 7th used light aircraft to provide courier and transportation services for personnel of the American occupation forces until it moved to the United States in June 1947. It performed similar services at March Air Force Base, California from September until it was inactivated on 28 March 1949.
The unit was again activated as the 7th Liaison Flight at Albrook Air Force Base, Panama Canal Zone in October 1949. There, it provided operations and logistical support for the Inter-American Geodetic Survey in the Panama Canal Zone. until inactivating again on 8 September 1952. Returning to squadron size, the 7th Liaison Squadron was activated the following month at Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina, where it flew De Havilland Canada L-20 Beavers until inactivating in June 1954.
In the late 1960s, the United States drew down some of its forces in Europe. To continue meeting its commitments to NATO, the Department of Defense developed the concept of "dual based" units that would be stationed in the United States, but would be committed to augment NATO and would regularly exercise with other forces in Europe. As part of the withdrawal, the Helio U-10 Courier flight of the 7th Special Operations Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany was used to organize the third predecessor of the squadron, the 7th Special Operations Flight at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts in July 1969. The flight operated the Couriers and, briefly, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain from Otis until May 1972.
That month, the flight moved on paper to Eglin Auxiliary FieId No. 9 (Hurlburt Field), Florida, where it was equipped with the Fairchild C-123 Provider. Shortly before its inactivation in April 1974, the squadron swapped its fixed wing aircraft for Bell UH-1 Hueys.
In 1985 the three squadrons were consolidated as the 27th Special Operations Squadron but the consolidated squadron remained inactive.
The consolidated squadron was redesignated the 7th Space Operations Squadron and activated in the reserve at Falcon Air Force Base, Colorado, on 1 January 1993. The 7th was the first reserve squadron with a space mission to be activated. Prior to the squadron's activation, reservists who worked in space-related positions were individual reservists under the individual augmentee program. The squadron was first assigned to the 302d Airlift Wing at nearby Peterson Air Force Base, but by 1997. reserve space participation had grown and the squadron became part of the new 310th Space Group.
The previous mission for 7th was to augment space operation squadrons of the 50th Space Wing, specifically the 1st Space Operations Squadron. These activities included satellite emergencies, launch and early orbit, and satellite disposal for the Global Positioning System and Defense Support Program satellites. Up until 2007, the 7th operated the Midcourse Space Experiment satellite, Air Force Space Command's only space-based space surveillance asset and also performed booster launch operations mission, providing telemetry collection/data relay for Delta II launches.