HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

50th Space Wing

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)

The 50th Space Wing, a component of U.S. Space Force, 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 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 50 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 50 SW and its GSUs, 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 Satellite Communications, 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 AFB mission.

The 50 OG commands and controls, and executes launch and early orbit operations, for more than 60 satellites, which support the 
President, Secretary of Defense, federal and civilian agencies and all U.S. and allied military forces. It is comprised of more than 1,100 active 
duty, Reserve and civilian professionals, and provides operational leadership, trains space operations crews and provides standardization 
and evaluation to more than 500 space system operators. The group's space operations centers perform 24-hour tracking, telemetry and 
commanding functions during launch, early-orbit and on-orbit spacecraft operations, as well as anomaly resolution and disposal.

The 50 NOG provides assured access to space through the $6.8 billion AFSCN, base communications capabilities across Schriever AFB, 
and defensive cyberspace capabilities for space mission systems.  The group plans, programs, integrates, operates and maintains command 
and control and common-user systems in support of U.S. Space Command, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, Missile Defense Agency, and 
the 21, 50 and 310 SW missions. Additionally, the group is responsible for the $100 million Communications and Information gateway and 
provides critical information to the nation’s warfighters through the Global Broadcast Service.

The 50 MSG provides security, civil engineering, fire protection, environmental management, manpower, personnel, logistics, contracting, 
base services and housing support for Schriever AFB. The group is comprised of over 800 personnel who manage an annual budget of 
$25 million, administer $500 million in contracts, and oversee 3,840 acres and 80 facilities valued at $1.2 billion.  Additionally the group 
plans, develops and coordinates base growth, mutual aid and encroachment with higher headquarters, city, county, state and federal 
officials as well as organizes, trains and equips over 1,600 Airmen for worldwide deployments in support of combatant 
commander requirements.

The 50 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 re-designated 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 Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the 50 SW 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 50 SW 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 3 and 4 SOPS maximized satellite 
communications coverage of the theater, while 1 SOPS 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 4 SOPS' Defense Satellite Communications System Phase III satellites 
provided 80 percent of in-theater bandwidth. Meanwhile, the 4 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 21, 22 and 23 SOPS, 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 January 2020)