50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Springs City Council members Larry Bagley and Andy Pico presented a proclamation declaring July 17, 2015 GPS Day during a ceremony at the headquarters building of Schriever Air Force Base July 15.
“Whereas the GPS master control station is operated by the 50th Space Wing’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, and is responsible for the command and control of the 31-satellite operational GPS constellation and whereas Colorado Springs is proud to be home to the source of the world’s vital GPS signal,” the proclamation read. “Now, therefore, I, Merv Bennett, President of the Colorado Springs City Council, in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the GPS system, do hereby proclaim July 17, 2015 as GPS Day in Colorado Springs.”
“GPS is important to the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County,” Bagley said.
Bagley said making a proclamation like this takes approval from several layers of city government and City Council wants to make sure proclamations are reserved for significant events.
“We don’t want to just do it for everybody,” Bagley said. “It is important that we maintain the integrity of the proclamation.”
The proclamation comes as the Air Force celebrates 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.
“It’s a great time, a significant milestone that [GPS] has been active this long,” Pico said. “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.”
Members of the 2nd and 19th Space Operations Squadrons here conduct the command and control mission of the GPS constellation. Earlier in the day, the 45th Space Wing launched GPS IIF-10 aboard an Atlas V, making it the 40th satellite in the constellation.
“This is a great day, what an amazing capstone to a phenomenal feat we had this morning,” said Lt. Col. Todd Benson, 2 SOPS commander. “Thank you to members of Team Blackjack, members of 19 and 2 SOPS (when you put us together you get 21, hence Team Blackjack), for the work you do and your support.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the 45th Space Wing for providing a perfect ride to orbit. Additionally, these advancements in GPS would not be possible without the professional team at SMC.”
Even before full operational capability was announced, GPS was used to support warfighters during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. Allied troops relied on GPS to help navigate the desert terrain in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
Both Bagley and Pico were among the first to take advantage of GPS as they served during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Bagley, a retired Air Force member, was the deputy director of the NAVSTAR/GPS joint program office from 1988-1992, while Pico, retired Navy, tracked GPS signals while stationed at Cheyenne Mountain.
“I was at Cheyenne Mountain [during Desert Storm] and trying to track the GPS constellation to make sure we had adequate signals because at that time, it wasn’t a full constellation,” Pico said.
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.