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5th Space Operations Squadron [5th SOPS]

The 5th Space Operations Squadron a component of the 50th Operations Group, 50th Space Wing, is located at Onizuka Air Station, CA.

It is responsible for day-to-day command and control for the DSCS III satellites and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization communications satellite program. The squadron has prime launch responsibility for DSCS III, NATO IV/Skynet IV and the Inertial Upper Stage.

The 5th SOPS is prime backup node for NATO IV/Skynet IV and DSP on-orbit operations. In addition, the squadron provides backup telemetry and commanding support to the Space Shuttle Control Center, various NASA programs, the Atlas, Titan and Delta booster rockets.

The squadron plans, conducts and support launch, early orbit and on-orbit operations for several DoD, allied, civil and commercial space missions, including Inertial Upper Stage for NASA and DoD space assets, NATO and the United Kingdom satellite communications systems, and Defense Satellite Communications Systems. In addition to satellite programs, the squadron provides tracking and telemetry support on every space shuttle mission and several expendable boosters, such as Delta and Athena, for DoD, NASA and commercial launches.

The squadron has primary responsibility for the first five days of all British Skynet 4 satellites during launch and early orbit. In addition, 5th SOPS performs an active backup role to all NATO IV/Skynet 4 on-orbit operations. As of May 1999, the unit was reportedly also responsible for daily operation of the remaining NATO III satellite.

The IUS is used to take satellites from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous altitude or other trajectories. The IUS and its payload are launched on a Titan IV or the space shuttle. The 5th SOPS commands the IUS for DoD missions, which include placing Defense Support Program satellites into proper orbits.

The 5th SOPS also provides tracking, telemetry, and commanding support to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's polar and geostationary weather satellites and NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellites.

The 5th SOPS was provisionally activated as Operating Location-A, 750th Space Group, on October 1, 1992. However, its roots began in the early 1960's as the Air Force Satellite Control Facility. This facility established one of the Air Force's major roles in space: satellite operations. AFSCF was later divided into the 2nd Space Test Group and the Consolidated Space Test Center on October 1, 1987 when AFSPC took over Onizuka Air Force Base, now Onizuka Air Station. OL-A encompassed the CSTC divisions of VOS, VOE, and VOD. 5th SOPS was officially activated November 22, 1993 under the 50th Operations Group.

In a three week span, in late 1993, the squadron flawlessly launched a DSCS III and a NATO IV communication satellite, supported NASA's Hubble telescope repair and activated as the 5th Space Operations Squadron. The squadron has launched the IUS in support of NASA programs including all seven TDRS and three inter-planetary spacecraft: Galileo (Jupiter), Magellan (Venus), and Ulysses (Sun). The squadron most recently supported the deployment of Skynet 4D and 4E to geosynchronous orbit.

Approximately 35 active duty military and four DoD civilians are assigned to the squadron. There are approximately 120 contractors conducting space operations in support of the 5th Space Operations Squadron.




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