NW man in Space Force

WASHINGTON - The United States Space Force is the newest branch of the military. As soldiers are to the Army, sailors are to the Navy and guardians are to the Space Force.

"Space Force is basically the Guardians of the high frontier," said Technical Sergeant Daniel Pielak. He is serving in Space Force and grew up in a small northwest town: Lewiston, Idaho.

"There are actually quite a few people in my unit who are from Idaho and Washington," said Pielak. "So we can kind of reminisce about that... and actually having rain. I miss that."

He transferred from the Air Force to Space Force in September. The Pielak family is based in California for now and whatever ideas you may have about this new branch of the military - he, for one, is keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground. 

"I personally don't want to go up into space," said Pielak. "I'm afraid of heights. I don't want to do that. This is like the second best thing."

Pielak is a non-commissioned officer in charge of training for the Conjunction Assessment Team at the 18th Space Control squadron which is a sub-unit of Space Delta Two. 

"We're just working at desks. Two computer screens, one computer... that's what we're doing," said Pielak. 

For Space Force, though, that fairly typical sounding workday has far, far reaching impacts. 

"So a lot of people don't know that the GPS that's on your phone, in your car, everywhere.... it's all operated by Space Force out in Colorado," said Pielak. "So they control those satellites, make sure they stay where they are supposed to up in orbit so we can provide that service to the world."

Pielak's job is tracking data from essentially space traffic with high-powered radars. For example:

"Two objects that were getting close to each other I had to call the actual owner/operators of those satellites and say, hey here is the information do what you must," said Pielak. "They ended up moving that satellite and avoiding a collision. That feels pretty cool knowing that I had a first-hand part in that."

A very cool job that not everyone is aware of just yet. 

"Actually when I was on leave back in idaho... my wife and I went out to a restaurant I asked them if they had a military discount, they're like oh yeah we do can i see your ID? I show them.. they're like Air Force? I said no, actually, Space Force. "We get a look like uh ok ok. It's just a new concept. A lot of people, especially in small towns, don't realize we've been doing this mission for years. We're just now pulling out to be our own thing."

Air Force Space Command had been around for decades. Since December 2019, Space Force has been its own branch altogether but with the same mission: to protect U.S. and allied interests in space.