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News | Dec. 9, 2023

GPS Celebrates 30th Anniversary at Schriever SFB

By Keefer Patterson Peterson and Schriever Public Affairs

Media, local leaders and community partners from across Colorado Springs and beyond came together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Global Positioning System at Schriever SFB, December 9.

The visit quickly kicked off with an introduction by Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Space Operations Command commander; Col. Andrew Menschner, Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Delta (Provisional) commander; and Lt. Col. Robert Wray, 2d Space Operations Squadron commander.

“We’re here to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Global Positioning Systems initial operational capability,” Whiting said. “What an incredible milestone that is. This squadron here, the 2d Space Operations Squadron, has been providing the gold standard for positioning, navigation and timing for three decades now and it’s great to come celebrate with these Guardians and Airmen.”

The GPS constellation first reached initial operating capability (IOC) on December 8, 1993. Originally developed for the military to meet a critical need for determining precise location on the battlefield, GPS has since been provided to the world and is now an integral part of technology affecting the lives of billions of people globally.

Today, the U.S. Space Force operates the GPS satellite constellation as a global utility—available to anyone, anytime, anywhere on Earth. 

“This weekend celebrates the 24th vehicle being added to the GPS constellation,” Menschner said. “It’s a tremendous technical achievement. If you can think about not only the ways GPS has revolutionized the way we in the military operate, it has also been a tremendous benefit to our civilian way of life. Everything that might be considered a major advance over the last 30 years has GPS at the foundation of it.”

On the operations floor, in addition to a brief history lesson on GPS, attendees were given insight into what the day-to-day operations look like and a demonstration on how the team communicates with orbiting satellites.

“GPS requires a crew of ten personnel—8 military and 2 contractors,” Wray said. “Those military members come from 2 and 19 SOPS. The mission evolves every single day but there are minimum standards we have to keep that’s unique to this mission. Having that standard so that commercial entities, international partners—everyone can know what to expect from GPS.”

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of when the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council gave the U.S. Air Force approval to proceed with the development of the Navstar Global Positioning System.

Whether you are navigating maps on your phone, withdrawing cash from an ATM or seeking coordinates on a battlefield, GPS has become a defining tool of everyday life in this modern age.

“It is a no-fail mission, 24/7, 365,” said Khiry Loyd, GPS maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge. “This mission for me is probably one of the more important missions I’ll do in my service. I’m grateful to be able to wake up and do this. It’s amazing to say that I was a part of that team.”

For more information on GPS, visit