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Natsios Young Architects

26 April 2003
Source of photos and maps: Mapquest and Terraserver.


50th Space Wing

50th Space Wing, a component of Air Force Space Command, is located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The wing was originally established on July 8, 1985 as the 2nd Space Wing, and then redesignated the 50th Space Wing on January 30, 1992. The wing manages the worldwide Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN).

Controls satellite programs including the Defense Support Program, the Navstar Global Positioning System, the Defense Satellite Communications System, NATO III, and Milstar.


Provide combat capability through command and control (C2) of communication, navigation, warning, and surveillance satellite weapon systems and conduct of expeditionary operations.

The mission of the 50th Space Wing is to command and control operational Department of Defense satellites and manage the worldwide Air Force Satellite Control Network. The wing operates satellite operation centers at Schriever AFB, and remote tracking stations and other command and control facilities around the world. These facilities monitor satellites during launch, put the satellites in their proper orbits following launch, operate the satellites while they are in orbit, and fix satellite anomalies when they occur.

The wing is composed of three groups: 50th Operations Group, 50th Maintenance Group and 50th Mission Support Group at Schriever Air Force Base.

The 50th Operations Group commands and controls assigned operational Department of Defense satellite systems, trains space operations crews, and provides operational support and evaluation functions for management of satellite control centers and assigned ground stations. The group is composed of eight squadrons.  The group is also responsible for the daily operation of the majority of the AFSCN. The network consists of eight subordinate tracking stations located around the world: 23rd Space Operations Squadron, New Boston Air Force Station, N.H.; Detachment 1, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.; Detachment 2, Diego Garcia, Chagos Archipelago; Detachment 3, Thule AB, Greenland; Detachment 4, Kaena Point, Oahu, Hawaii; Detachment 5, Andersen AFB, Guam; Colorado Tracking Station, Schriever AFB, and Oakhanger, England, operated by the United Kingdom. The tracking stations command, track, record and process on-orbit satellite data in support of DOD, NASA, and NATO programs. The wing assumed operational control of the AFSCN in October 1987.

The 50th Maintenance Group manages and executes 50th Space Wing responsibilities for logistics, maintenance activities, communications-computer resources, in support of the Air Force Space Command's space operations mission. The group is composed of two squadrons.

50th Space Communications Squadron was activated on December 1, 1997. The mission is to provide, operate and maintain Schriever Air Force Base communications in support of the Air Force Satellite Communications Network for 50th Space Wing units located worldwide; to configure eleven weapons systems for real-time, global communications between the 50th Space Wing on-orbit assets and the space operators. The 50th Space Communications Squadron operates and maintains two Defense Satellite Communications System earth terminals and one Milstar earth terminal which provides Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment data to NORAD and United States Space Command. The unit also maintains the Security Control System that provides access, control and intrusion detection, and annunciation for Schriever Air Force Base. The 50th Space Communications Squadron plays a critical role in maintaining cryptographic equipment, wideband multiplexers and modems, weather support equipment, and base cabling for all units on Schriever Air Force Base.

850th Space Communications Squadron was activated December 1, 1997 as the 850th Communications Squadron and redesignated the 850th Space Communications Squadron on October 1, 2002.   The mission of the 850th Space Communications Squadron is to plan, integrate, and maintain command and control, and common user communications and computer systems for satellite navigation, communications, missile warning and space surveillance worldwide.  The squadron is responsible for logistics management, systems maintenance and integrity of satellite command, control, communications and computer systems for the AFSPC mission including the $6.2 billion Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN), supporting over 145 DoD satellites.  The squadron also provides anomaly resolution, systems integration and configuration control supporting AFSPC, USSTRATCOM, the Secretary of Defense and the President.

The 50th Mission Support Group operates and maintains Schriever AFB, with responsibility for maintaining base security, providing civil engineering, services division, contracting guidance and policy and general activities support. The group is also responsible for base support of the wing's sites worldwide.

The wing's space operations squadrons are primarily concerned with control, telemetry, tracking and commanding of assigned satellites. Crew members conduct 24-hour operations to continually monitor the status of and control satellite systems.

The 1st Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB provides support during launch, early orbit, mission, and anomaly resolution phases throughout the lifetime of GPS and DSP satellites. The squadron crews control newly launched satellites during their initial orbital checkout phase. When all satellite subsystems are functioning properly and the satellite is stabilized, the squadron turns over day-to-day command and control of the system to various AFSPC users.

The 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB is responsible for day-to-day command and control of the Navstar GPS satellite constellation. GPS is a space-based radio navigation network providing 24-hour, all-weather, precise positioning and timing information to meet the needs of U.S. and allied military services worldwide, as well as the civilian community. The GPS constellation consists of 24 satellites circling the globe every 12 hours. Det 1, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, is located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., where it monitors software and supports prelaunch compatibility testing of GPS satellites.

The 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB is responsible for day-to-day command and control of military communication satellites including DSCS III, and NATO III. Responsibilities include commanding, tracking and conducting telemetry analysis. The operators also provide launch and early orbit support, trend analysis, and vehicle anomaly resolution. It also conducts both launch and on-orbit operations for the Navy's Ultrahigh Frequency Follow-on satellite program.

The 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB is responsible for the day-to-day operations, to include payload management, of the Milstar communications satellite system. Milstar is a joint service system that provides secure, jam resistant, 24-hour, worldwide communications to meet essential wartime operational requirements for high-priority military users. The two-satellite constellation is controlled from two fixed Constellation Control Stations at Schriever Air Force Base and three mobile CCSs garrisoned at Peterson and Offutt Air Force Bases. Milstar provides assured, jam resistant and secure communications for all levels of command from the National Command Authorities all the way down to deployed tactical warfighters through all levels of conflict.

Current as of March 2003

Air Force

This shows Schriever AFB when it was named Falcon AFB, and new buildings have been added since the photo was taken.
Note below the controlled-access, double perimeter security fence and patrol roads characteristic of
high security installations such as nuclear weapons storage areas and presidential aircraft hangars.

This is a 1999 photo by USGS which shows the site a few years earlier than the color photo above.