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2nd SOPS inactivates Det 1
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Lt. Col. Kurt Kuntzelman and Major John Buchanan retire the guidon as part of the Inactivation of Detachment 1, 2nd Space Operations Squadron May 1 in the base auditorium here. Colonel Kuntzelman is the Commander of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron and Maj. Buchanan is the Commander of Detachment 1, 2nd Space Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Amber Whittington)
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2nd SOPS inactivates Det. 1

Posted 5/7/2008   Updated 5/7/2008 Email story   Print story


5/7/2008 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Detachment 1, 2nd Space Operations Squadron officially handed over responsibility of the Global Positioning System Ground Station at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. to Artic Slope World Services in a ceremony May 1 at the Bldg. 300 auditorium. 

The transition, which marks the end of more than 22 years of continuous Air Force presence at Cape Canaveral, effectively removes active duty servicemembers from the remote Ground Positioning System site. 

"The remaining 10 Air Force members of Detachment 1 are moving on to other areas of service," said Maj. John Buchanan, Det. 1 commander. "While there is a bit of sadness brought on by the end of the 'blue-suit' era at the ground station, it's understood that transformation is part of the Air Force's evolution and is necessary to ensure we remain the preeminent and most dominating Air Force in the world." 

While the site is remotely controlled by the men and women of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron from the GPS Master Control Station at Schriever, the responsibility to maintain the site's equipment and facilities belongs to the Satellite Communications, Wideband, Telemetry and Space-Systems electronic technicians assigned to Det. 1. 

"It was a tremendous job for all of our folks, not just for maintaining the site, but assisting with all the watches of our satellites," said Lt. Col. Kurt Kuntzelman, 2nd SOPS commander. "We have six of the modernized IIR satellites up now with two more remaining, making 33 total GPS satellites for the most we've ever had in the history of GPS, and contributing to the best navigation accuracy in our 23 year history." 

The history of the facility that houses the current GPS ground station links back to the days of the early space program. 

First established as the International Press Site for the historic Freedom 7 launch February 20, 1962, it was there that reporters and camera crews watched Lt. Col. John Glenn become the first American in orbit. The site served in that capacity for six years, concluding with the Apollo 7 launch on October 11, 1968. In 1981, the site was selected to be a ground station for GPS, then still in its infancy. 

The 1879th Communications Squadron assumed management of the site October 1, 1986. One year later that responsibility was given to the 1002nd Space Systems Support Squadron, 2nd Space Wing. When the site's role was expanded to include compatibility testing and pre-launch checkout of all new GPS satellites in December 1989, it was designated as a detachment. 

The site was officially designated as Det. 1, 2nd Space Operations Squadron January 30, 1992, the same day the 2nd Space Wing was replaced by the 50th Space Wing. With the events surrounding Sept. 11 and the Global War on Terrorism, in addition to the sky rocketing demand for GPS services worldwide, the detachment's mission focus shifted from being primarily a test and development station to a key operational asset, providing real-time satellite command and control. 

Over the years, the unit successfully progressed on the operational side as well as the professional level. The unit boasts an operational availability rate of over 99 percent, successfully completing in excess of 4,600 satellite contacts over the past year alone.
The unit continues to support the integration of new satellite and ground system hardware and software as result of contributing more than 450 hours of testing and developmental activities in 2007. The unit's contributions were also key to the squadron winning the Gen. Richard C. Henry Award for Best Space Operations Squadron in 2003, 2004, and 2007, as well as the 2007 Lt. Gen. Claire Chennault Trophy for Best Operations Group in Air Force Space Command. Additionally, the entire detachment was recognized as a professional team during the 2005 Air Force Space Command Inspector General visit for overall excellence and professionalism. 

Det. 1's mission to provide non-stop operational command and control and status monitoring of the 32-satellite GPS constellation, the largest military satellite constellation in the world, will not change.

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