4 January 2016 – Throughout the years, GPS has achieved historic milestones and garnered recognition for its contributions to the betterment of humanity.
2015 was no different.
GPS, operated by the dedicated men and women of the 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is also the world’s largest military satellite constellation. Uses of GPS include precise timing for financial transactions, search and rescue, communications, farming, recreation and both military and commercial aviation.
The 2 and 19 SOPS, referred to as Team Black Jack, hosted GPS Week Feb.
15-20 to honor their heritage and interact directly with the Colorado Springs community. The week included a community geo-caching event, GPS/base tours for dozens of middle and high school students, 2 SOPS educational outreach events at local schools and culminated with a GPS heritage celebration.
"We wanted to touch the different facets of our community and that’s why we planned these events," said Tech. Sgt. Abifarin Scott, 2 SOPS GPS maintenance flight chief.
GPS received historic recognition from the city of Colorado Springs a few months later. Colorado Springs City Council members presented a proclamation declaring July 17, 2015, GPS Day during a ceremony July 15.
"It’s a great time, a significant milestone that [GPS] has been active this long," said Andy Pico, Colorado Springs City Council member. "GPS has grown to be such a tremendous part of everybody’s lives, it runs everything…it’s so much into the fabric of everybody’s life."
The proclamation came as the Air Force celebrated GPS’s 20 years of full operational capability, confirmed July 17, 1995. During the last 20 years, GPS has become an integral part of technology that affects the lives of billions of people around the world.
The men and women of GPS stayed busy supporting many operations throughout the year.
The Air Force and the 45th Space Wing supported the successful launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket that roared to life March 25, carrying the Air Force’s ninth Block IIF-09 navigation satellite for the GPS.
2 and 19 SOPS accepted satellite control authority of GPS IIF-9 Satellite Vehicle Number-71 April 3.
2 SOPS successfully completed a transfer operation of GPS satellite control authority to the Alternate Master Control Site at a backup location on June 6.
2 and 19 SOPS accepted command and control of the 10th GPS Block IIF satellite July 24.
After 15 years of launch operations for the GPS, 19 SOPS completed their 26th launch as a squadron Oct. 31, performing checkout operations on the 11th GPS IIF satellite.
On Nov. 6, Team Black Jack accepted SCA just six days after the Halloween launch of satellite vehicle number-73 – in record time. Members of Team Black Jack prepped for the launch and subsequent SCA acceptance of SVN-73 for approximately three months.
The Command’s GPS operations were showcased in multiple venues this year, engaging with communities and making the mission known all over the world.
CBS featured the 50th Space Wing and GPS on an episode of 60 Minutes, and BLUE, the Air Force’s flagship TV show, also featured GPS – both of which displayed the capabilities it offers to humanity.
Beyond its essential capability for the military, GPS is a worldwide utility that provides the highest accuracy data available to people all around the world and enables such vital activities as weather forecasting, transportation, global commerce and farming/agriculture.
"2 SOPS’s continuing objective is to ensure GPS remains the gold standard for global space-based navigation and timing by providing highly reliable and accurate GPS signals to users around the world," said Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2 SOPS Commander. "We look forward to continuing to provide our mission partners and global users with the most accurate position, navigation and timing signal available in the history of GPS."