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GPS, inertial technology support defense missions

April 30, 2020  - By
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2 SOPS never stops

There’s no question that GPS is an essential service. The Second Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) is continuing to provide a global utility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No matter what, we need to ensure this mission continues so the American people and the world know they can depend on us to be the gold standard in precision navigation and timing,” said Lt. Col Stephen Toth, 2 SOPS commander. Services that use GPS include ambulances, hospitals, police departments and fire departments.

“It would make a global pandemic that much worse if we were to go down,” Toth said. “It could prevent a lot of the day-to-day things we rely on from happening, it could be catastrophic.”

GPS supports 14 of 16 essential industries in the United States. “We’ll remain reliable no matter what the condition the world is in,” Toth said. “Whether it be a pandemic, hurricane, tornado or any other type of crisis, we have plans and training for whatever threat we may face so the mission doesn’t stop.”

Unlike other jobs across the Department of Defense, those directly conducting operations can’t telework. They need to be in a sensitive compartmented information facility or restricted area in a secured area to access specific terminals and networks.

“The American people can count on space and they can count on our military to continue to provide the level of capability that’s expected no matter what’s going on in the world,” Toth said. “In times of crisis, people shouldn’t have to question whether we’ll be here or not, because we will and the mission won’t stop.”

Welcome to the Space Force

The official Space Force emblem was unveiled on Jan. 24. (Logo: United States Space Force)

The official Space Force emblem was unveiled on Jan. 24.

Organized as a military service branch within the U.S. Department of the Air Force, the newly created Space Force has taken the reins of the GPS program.

Established on Dec. 20, 2019, under the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the Space Force will be set up over the following 18 months. Commander of U.S. Space Command, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, was sworn in Jan. 14 as the first chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force, and is stationed at the Pentagon.

The same staff who have operated satellites and conducted space activities in the Air Force are continuing under the Space Force. Under the Space Force are the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base and the GPS Master Control Station, operated by the 50th Space Wing’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2 SOPS) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The 50th Space Wing is under Space Operations Command, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

25 years. The U.S. Space Force celebrated the 25th Anniversary of GPS reaching Full Operational Capability (FOC) on April 27, 2019. Over the past 25 years, GPS has become an integral technology that affects the lives of billions of people across the world.


Check out more case studies where GPS and inertial technology are supporting defense missions.


Featured image: U.S. Space Force / Kathryn Calvert; Capt. Jeff Wagner discusses a routine health check on a GPS satellite. 2 SOPS performs the command and control mission for the constellation.

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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