Command And Control Of Latest GPS Satellite Transferred To Schriever AFB

Lt. Col. Todd Benson (left), 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Sam Baxter (right), 19 SOPS commander, assumes satellite control authority of GPS IIF-9 Satellite Vehicle Number - 71 from Capt. Brian Figueroa (center), Space and Missile Systems Center April 3, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Image Credit: U.S. Air Force/Christopher Dewitt

Lt. Col. Todd Benson (left), 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander, and Lt. Col. Sam Baxter (right), 19 SOPS commander, assumes satellite control authority of GPS IIF-9 Satellite Vehicle Number – 71 from Capt. Brian Figueroa (center), Space and Missile Systems Center April 3, 2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Image Credit: U.S. Air Force/Christopher Dewitt

strong>April 7, 2015 – The 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons took satellite control authority of the GPS IIF-9 Satellite on April 3 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

Representatives from the Space and Missile Systems Center, 14th Air Force and the 50th Space Wing, including 2 and 19 SOPS commanders, connected through a teleconference to formally accept command and control of the latest GPS satellite.

“Ownership has been transferred from the developers to the operators,” said Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2 SOPS commander. “We’ll continue with more on orbit checkup. Soon, we’ll set the vehicle ‘healthy to all users,’ which means the general populace can start using it.”

The U.S. Air Force and its industry partners launched the ninth Boeing-built Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV launch vehicle, March 25. This launch marked nearly 40 satellites in the constellation’s medium Earth orbit.

According to Lt. Col. Sam Baxter, 19 SOPS commander, this is more meaningful than just improving civilian applications for GPS.

“We’re improving the capabilities for the warfighter so they have a much more reliable GPS signal,” said Baxter.

The constellation provides more than 3 billion users with precision timing which, enables time stamp for ATM transactions and stock market exchanges, as well as directions and countless other applications.

“We have to continually replenish our constellation,” added Benson. “We’re building a more robust constellation with each addition.”

Benson and Baxter agreed this is due to the significance GPS contributes to the world.

One satellite can cost upwards of $245 million, but the return on investment is worth it, according to Baxter and Benson.

“The oldest satellite in orbit is 24 years old and its life span was only anticipated for seven a half years,” said Benson.

The units spent months in advance prepping for this transfer. The uniqueness of the partnership between active duty 2 SOPS and Reserve 19 SOPS is one that compliments the other with continuity in experience. Both commanders were impressed with the effort and outcome of the launch and transfer of authority.

“Watching how smooth an operation is, on such a complex endeavor, is impressive,” said Baxter. “When you think of the global impact of what we’re doing and how complicated it is, it’s really an impressive sight to see.”

“To be in a unit that gets to experience a true cradle to grave experience with a satellite is unreal,” he added. “Our career field is involved in everything from launches to disposals and all operations in between.”