Space Force troops are keeping their distance from each other and leaders have postponed a string a events — including renaming ceremonies for two Colorado Springs bases — but America's satellite service remains on the job despite coronavirus fears.
The service's chief, Gen. Jay Raymond, spoke Friday from a Pentagon teleconference that marked 100 days since the Space Force was signed into existence by President Donald Trump. Raymond said various steps, including keeping separate crews ready for satellite systems, are being used so a single case of the virus won't reduce American capabilities.
"We have embraced precautionary measures to safeguard the health of our people," Raymond said. "We stand ready to protect and defend our national interest during this crisis."
The general said extra janitorial work is being used to keep the classified offices where satellites are controlled spotless. Other measures, including tightened security that have closed Colorado Springs bases to visitors, also are expected to slow the spread of coronavirus in space units.
With most of his Pikes Peak region space troops living off base, Raymond said locals also have a role to play in keeping American satellites flying. Social distancing and staying home are key, he said.
"I would encourage everyone in America to follow those guidelines to keep everyone safe," he said.
Three people at Space Force facilities have been diagnosed with coronavirus, including two in Colorado Springs.
The command has revamped how it manages satellite crews, so that if a member of one crew gets sick, a second crew can be brought in without intermingling with colleagues who may have been exposed.
In the highly classified world of military space programs, telecommuting isn't possible, so keeping virus-free crews at the ready is key.
Raymond also unveiled a plan that will rename Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases. He said those installations soon will formally become "Space Force bases."
Raymond said that step, however, will require ceremonies, which are on hold to quell the spread of the virus.
Other announcements about the new service, including what its troops will be called, were poised to be made in Colorado Springs starting Monday during the annual Space Symposium.
With that event on hold, Raymond said he hopes to roll out that information and more in the coming weeks.
For now, Raymond said his goal is to keep the military's satellites working. Communication and navigation satellites are key to help fight the virus by keeping the military connected and helping guide first responders to where they are needed.
"We are safely and effectively conducting our missions," he said.