New Boston Space Force Station

Summary

New Boston Space Force Station
Near New Boston, New Hampshire in United States
New Boston from gate.jpg
New Boston Space Force Station
Emblem of the Peterson-Schriever Garrison.svg
New Boston SFS is located in the United States
New Boston SFS
New Boston SFS
Location in the United States
Coordinates42°56′32″N 71°38′10″W / 42.942350°N 71.636095°W / 42.942350; -71.636095Coordinates: 42°56′32″N 71°38′10″W / 42.942350°N 71.636095°W / 42.942350; -71.636095
TypeUS Space Force station
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUnited States Space Force
Controlled by23rd Space Operations Squadron, Peterson-Schriever Garrison, Space Operations Command
Open to
the public
Partially
ConditionOperational
Site history
Built1959 (1959) – 1960
In use1960 – 2019 (US Air Force)
2019 – present (US Space Force)
Garrison information
Current
commander
Lt. Col. David Zesinger
GarrisonPeterson-Schriever Garrison
Occupants23rd Space Operations Squadron

New Boston Space Force Station is a United States Space Force facility located in Hillsborough County in south central New Hampshire. It was transferred from the United States Air Force to the Space Force in the summer of 2020.[1] The installation occupies more than 2,800 acres (11 km2) in three towns: New Boston, Amherst, and Mont Vernon. It was originally established in 1942 as a practice area for bombers and fighter planes from nearby Grenier Army Air Field (now Manchester–Boston Regional Airport).[2] Starting in 1959, it was turned into a satellite-tracking station, providing the facilities most prominent feature, the weatherproof radomes which dot the hillside.[3] Since 2020 the facility has also provided line of sight telemetry tracking for commercial space launches by SpaceX[4]

New Boston SFS is operated by the 23d Space Operations Squadron (23 SOPS), a geographically separated unit (GSU) of Space Delta 6, part of Peterson-Schriever Garrison at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, a garrison command of the U.S. Space Force.

The squadron provides assured access to space and cyberspace by operating and maintaining the largest Air Force Satellite Control Network remote tracking station at New Boston SFS, as well as at three other Geographically Separated Units located at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Oakhanger, United Kingdom, and the Eastern Vehicle Checkout Facility located at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The squadron provides real-time capability to users performing on-orbit tracking, telemetry, commanding and mission data retrieval services.

Additionally, the squadron provides remote command and control capability through two Global Positioning System Control stations located at Cape Canaveral and Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean.

The squadron also operates and maintains a Defense Satellite Communications System Heavy Earth Terminal, and additional equipment in support of the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration and other mission partners.

In the squadron’s unique role in commanding the installation at New Boston SFS, 23rd SOPS operates and maintains a 2,826-acre installation and infrastructure worth more than $106 million.

History

The New Boston Space Force Station dates back to 1942, when Grenier Field in Manchester was preparing to meet the demands of World War II.

On September 5, 1941, Colonel John Moore, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Air Corps at Grenier Field, wrote a letter proposing the government create a bombing range in New Boston near Joe English Pond. "The nature of the terrain around the pond is such that aerial bombing thereon would offer the elements of surprise, concealed approach and navigation to a point," Moore wrote. "It is believed that Joe English Hill (altitude 1,245 feet) would be a satisfactory stop for any ricochet bullets from ground machine gun targets."

The main gate at New Boston AFS as it existed in 1960

Eventually, land belonging to 16 families, 12 of them in New Boston, was taken at a cost of $23,200.

There was no electricity on site, and water had to be brought from Dodge's store in the center of New Boston. Nail kegs were used as chairs. Locals felt so sorry for the soldiers that they donated used furniture.

During World War II, local residents remember watching fighters and bombers train at the Air Force station and learned to recognize the sounds of strafing and bombing as they went about their tasks.

"I'd watch from the kitchen window," 89-year-old Evelyn Barss told the Nashua Telegraph newspaper in a 2005 story. "They would come in across the hill and drop their bombs and we would see them. These little black specks would go down, and you would hear a small discharge - they didn't use a lot of powder because it was scarce during the war."

New Boston from above in 2014

Roland Goodwin worked at the base on and off for three decades and he remembers seeing the tail fins of bombs sticking out of the pond. Planes at one time practiced dropping depth bombs for sinking submarines.

"Every building we built down there in the early days ... we usually ran into a buried bomb of some kind. We'd have to bring people up from Fort Devens to detonate it." Ordnance has been detonated as late as 2010. [5]

After the war, the station took a lower profile. The bombing range was deactivated and after a long debate about the site's future, it became home to new satellite tracking antennas.

Inside a New Boston radome in 2021.

Satellite support operations at New Boston Satellite Tracking Station began April 1, 1960, using van-mounted equipment. Simultaneous with van operations, the installation of equipment in permanent facilities began under the Weapons Systems 117L program. Van operations were gradually phased out, and by June 1964, the entire station was operating in permanent facilities. By the summer of 1964, the station had dual satellite tracking, telemetry and commanding capabilities. During the late 1970s and early 1980s it was known as Detachment 1 of the 2014th Communications Squadron located at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts. The squadron was transferred to Air Force Space Command, and the station moved from a research and development environment into the operational Air Force Oct. 1, 1987. The 23rd Space Operations Squadron was realigned under the 50th NOG March 10, 2004, and the station celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Assigned to the 50th NOG, the unit later gained responsibility and oversight of the 23rd SOPS began supporting three other AFSCN sites including 23rd SOPS Detachment 1, located at Thule Air Base, Greenland, and RAF Oakhanger, United Kingdom, Oct. 1, 2010. The third site, the Eastern Vehicle Checkout Facility is located at Cape Canaveral and ensures operation of satellites prior to and during initial launch. The 23rd SOPS began supporting two GPS ground antennas and monitor stations Aug. 1, 2011. One is located at Cape Canaveral and the other is located at Ascension Auxiliary Air Field on RAF Ascension Island.[6]

Space Force

In July 2021 the facility was renamed from New Boston Air Force Station to New Boston Space Force Station.[7]

On July 19th, the facility was upgraded, with a new hybrid automated remote tracking system for the facility's 13 meter antenna, and a new radome installed over the antenna.

Based units

23 Space Operations Squadron emblem.jpg

Notable units based at New Boston Space Force Station.[8]

United States Space Force

Space Operations Command (SpOC)

23 SOPS is a Geographically Separate Unit, which although based at New Boston SFS, is subordinate to the Space Delta 6 based at Schriever AFB in Colorado.

Geography

The new installation sign after its redesignation ceremony

A few working farms are in the vicinity; however, most of the area is heavily wooded with pockets of residential development. Commercial development consists primarily of small shopping centers with a few office complexes along NH State Route 101 to the southeast.

New Boston SFS consists mostly of undeveloped, forested land with extensive wetlands. Local, state, and federal laws governing the preservation of natural, cultural, and environmental resources play a major role in limiting development on and around the station.

The station lies within the Merrimack River watershed. Fourteen freshwater ponds fed by springs or streams, which occupy approximately 100 acres (405,000 m²), and seven miles (11 km) of streams exist on the station. The ponds are bordered by wetlands, and the streams by riparian vegetation. Riffle and pool habitats are favorable for many cold water fish species. Wetland types include freshwater emergent marshes of variable depths, wet meadows, shrub and deciduous wooded swamps such as red maple and black gum swamps, and a red spruce bog. This bog contains a deep peat layer.

Of all the water bodies on the station, only Joe English Pond appears on the list of protected water bodies under the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Comprehensive Shoreline Protection Act (CSPA).

References

  1. ^ Granite Geek: "Space Force comes to a New Hampshire town"
  2. ^ New Boston Historical Society: "The Bombing of Joe English Pond"
  3. ^ FOX21 goes inside the New Boston Air Force Station
  4. ^ Epstein, Jeff (May 30, 2020). "Lift-off! NH Air Force workers will be at their posts for historic SpaceX launch | Manchester Ink Link". manchesterinklink.com. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  5. ^ U.S. Air Force: "2000 pound bomb detonated at New Boston" 20 October 2010
  6. ^ "23rd Space Operations Squadron". Schriever Space Force Base. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  7. ^ @SchrieverAFB (12 July 2021). "Following a ceremony held today, July 12, New Boston Air Force Station was renamed to reflect its role in the…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ "Units". Schriever AFB. US Space Force. Retrieved 5 August 2020.

External links

  • 23rd Space Operations Squadron at New Boston AFS (fact sheet)
  • Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. NH-51, "New Boston Air Force Station, 317 Chestnut Hill Road, New Boston, Hillsborough County, NH", 16 data pages
  • HAER No. NH-51-A, "New Boston Air Force Station, Boresight Tower", 2 photos, 9 data pages, 2 photo caption pages
  • HAER No. NH-51-B, "New Boston Air Force Station, Angle Tracker Antenna", 3 photos, 9 data pages, 2 photo caption pages