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Schriever AFB celebrates history of growth
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Falcon Air Force Station and the 2nd Space Wing were activated Sept. 26, 1985. The base's 230 employees moved into 12 new facilities. (courtesy photo)
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Housing construction offers historical glimpse of Schriever's growth

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


by Randy Saunders
50th Space Wing Historian

5/5/2008 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Twenty five years after contractors broke ground for the construction of Schriever AFB, representatives from the local community, base leaders, and Air Force Space Command officials will join contractors May 16 to break ground on the largest construction project on the base since it opened. 

The base's two year program will build 242 housing units ranging in size from 1,630 square feet to 4,000 square feet, each featuring a minimum of three bedrooms. 

Construction will take place in the next two years and will include housing for Airmen of all ranks, in addition to a community center, hiking and biking trails in addition to other amenities. 

Like many of the surrounding communities in El Paso County, Schriever Air Force Base is growing rapidly. This growth is not new to the base, whose missions and footprints have grown since ground was first broken on a snowy May 17, 1983. A look back at the past 25 years shows this growth. 

As the military's development and exploitation of space for various missions expanded in the 1970's, the Department of Defense realized the need for consolidated facilities and operations centers to manage the growing number of satellites on orbit and the communications network to support those space vehicles. By the mid-1970s, the military departments had recognized the need for such agencies, and planning had begun to satisfy those requirements. In the fall of 1979, officials approved plans for the development of a military installation to provide operational control and support of existing and planned satellite constellations. 

On May 17, 1983, contractors broke ground on Falcon Air Force Station, later renamed Schriever, on the high plains of eastern Colorado. The Air Force had chosen the site for the new Consolidated Space Operations Center carefully, considering encroachment from surrounding communities, security, and known and projected growth requirements, including the Joint National Test Facility, now known as the Joint National Integration Center, a key agency supporting President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, which opened in September 1990. 

A ceremony on September 26, 1985 marked the activation of Falcon Air Force Station and the 2nd Space Wing's 230 employees moved into their new facilities. Construction of the facilities to support the Combined Space Operations Center, the Air Force's new primary satellite control activity, continued. Once fully operational, the CSOC became the primary node for the Air Force Satellite Control Network.
Originally planned as a mission-centric station, the installation included no medical facilities and relied on Peterson Air Force Base, 10 miles west of the station, to provide these services. By 1988, additional missions and facilities at the installation had necessitated a name change. On June 13, 1988, the Air Force ordered the redesignation of Falcon Air Force Station as Falcon Air Force Base. 

As the installation and its units matured, the base's reliance on Peterson for support declined. The 50th Space Wing, previously 50th Tactical Fighter Wing, moved to Falcon on January 30, 1992, replacing the inactivated 2nd SW as the base's host unit. The 50th Mission Support Squadron soon assumed responsibility of all morale, welfare, and recreation activities from Peterson and activated its own Consolidated Base Personnel Office. Also in 1992, the 4th Space Operations Squadron activated to assume the satellite control mission for the planned Milstar constellation. 

Growth and associated construction continued at the installation. In 1993, Air Force Space Command activated the Space Warfare Center, now the Space Innovation and Development Center, at Falcon. In 1997, the 310th Space Group of the Air Force Reserves joined the Falcon AFB family. In 1998, the base became Schriever, honoring General Bernard A. Schriever, a pioneer in the Air Force's space journey. Development continued throughout the remainder of the 1990s and into the new millennium. Schriever AFB grew to over 4,100 acres. And, while manning at the 50th Space Wing declined, the base's population continued to grow, reaching 6,227 by early 2006. 

This growth in employee population resulted from the influx of new tenant units supporting both the 50th Space Wing mission and the space activities of other DOD and federal agencies. By the end of 2005, the list of tenant organizations at Schriever included detachments of the Naval Space Operations Center and Naval Space Command, detachments from Air Force Space Command and the Space and Missile Systems Center, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Satellite Control Battalion U.S. Army, and many more. 

The growth of units at the installation relied less on Peterson's support agencies. The base built a fitness center, child development center, and a medical and dental clinic supported by a detachment from the 10th Medical Group. A new Secure Area Logistics Facility provided the base with limited warehousing and centralized receiving and shipping areas. Expansion of missions necessitated the construction of new headquarters buildings for the 50th Space Wing and the 310th Space Group, with plans for new facilities to house the Space Innovation and Development Center. 

The addition of housing is one facet of the base's 20 year development plan that will ensure Schriever has the infrastructure to meet the future.

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