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50th Space Wing

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)


The 50th Space Wing, a component of Air Force Space Command, is located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

The wing is responsible for the operation and support of 185 Department of Defense satellites and installation support to 20 mission partners with a workforce of more than 8,000 personnel.


The 50th Space Wing’s mission is to evolve space and cyberspace warfighting superiority through integrated and innovative operations. Integrated and innovative operations that are necessary to stay ahead of our adversaries and to continue to be the leading force in space and cyberspace. To enable the vision of one team, mastering space and cyberspace operations, now and into the future.

The 50th SW is organized into three groups, the operations group, network operations group and mission support group, including 16 geographically separated units around the world. Through the 50th SW and its geographically separated units, the wing enables command and control of more than 185 satellites, to include commercial, DoD and civil assets.

The wing operates and supports satellite programs including the Global Positioning System, Defense Satellite Communications System, Wideband Global SATCOM, Milstar, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Space Based Space Surveillance, Operationally Responsive Space satellite system, Advanced Extremely High Frequency,
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle and the worldwide Air Force Satellite Control Network supporting 185 satellites.

The wing operates satellite operation centers at Schriever AFB and remote tracking stations and other command and control facilities around the world. Through these facilities, wing personnel monitor satellites during launch, put satellites in their proper orbits following launch, operate the satellites while they are in orbit, ensure effective and efficient satellites operations and properly dispose of the satellites at their end of life.


The wing is composed of three groups; each responsible for a distinct part of the Schriever Air Force Base mission.

The 50th Operations Group commands and controls, executes launch and early orbit operations, and provides operational support to 70 satellites, which support the president, Secretary of Defense, federal and civilian agencies and all U.S. and allied military forces. Additionally the group trains and equips the wing’s Airmen forces to ensure they are prepared to operate in this contested warfighting domain. The group consists of eight active-duty, Reserve and Guard squadrons with units located at Schriever AFB, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and Vandenberg AFB, California.

The 50th Network Operations Group performs diverse cyberspace operations. The group commands and controls the AFSCN, manages and executes wing maintenance activities and provides communications-computer support and mitigates cyber threats to wing mission systems. The group is composed of four squadrons, four detachments and twelve geographically separated operating locations.

The 50th Mission Support Group provides security, civil engineering, fire, personnel, contracting, force support and logistic readiness support to Schriever AFB. The group is composed of four squadrons and a flight providing base support of the wing's sites worldwide.

The 50th SW and its predecessors trace their history back to 1941 when the 50th Pursuit Group activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan. During World War II, the 50th served at a number of European bases from which crews flew fighter, escort and bombing missions. Crews of the 50th Fighter Group also participated in the D-Day invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. During the Cold War, the 50th served primarily at Hahn Air Base, Germany. Operating a number of weapons systems from the F-86 Sabre to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing (as it was then called) played a key role in America's defense.

From January to April 1991, the wing's aircrew flew "SCUD-busting" and airfield interdiction missions in support of Operation DESERT STORM. The wing was redesignated the 50th Space Wing and moved to Falcon AFB Jan. 30, 1992, replacing the 2nd Space Wing. Falcon AFB was renamed Schriever AFB June 5, 1998, in honor of retired Gen. Bernard A. Schriever, who pioneered the development of the nation's ballistic missile programs and is recognized as "the father of the U.S. Air Force's space and missile program."

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the 50th Space Wing supported Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and NOBLE EAGLE in the Global War on Terror.  On March 20, 2003, U.S. forces initiated Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, leading a coalition of allied military units to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power and arrest him. The 50th Space Wing played a key role. Crews of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron developed new techniques for enhancing GPS accuracy over the Iraqi theater of operations and flew more than 1,000 satellite sorties between March 20 and April 10. Satellite crews of the 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons maximized satellite communications coverage of the theater, while 1st Space Operations Squadron set a record, placing a GPS satellite in orbit and completing all early on-orbit checkout activities in only 11 days, while also flying 100 Defense Support Program satellite sorties and 300 GPS sorties in the first 20 days of combat.  The 4th SOPS's Defense Satellite Communications System Phase III satellites provided 80 percent of in-theater bandwidth. Meanwhile, the 4th SOPS dedicated 85 percent of MILSTAR communications capability to the war effort, flying 14,000 sorties in the first 20 days of operations.

In 2017, personnel at the Wing's tracking stations, including 21st, 22nd and 23rd Space Operations Squadrons, logged 162,022 satellite contacts while also assisting with other satellite operations and 27 space launches.

The base indirectly contributes an estimated $1.3 billion to the local Colorado Springs, Colorado, area annually.

(updated as of May 2018)