Vice President visits front range for day with space

Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Vice President Michael Pence made history by being the first vice president to send a payload command to a Global Positioning System satellite, Friday, June 23, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. 

The command is part of the care and feeding the 50th Space Wing space professionals provide on a daily basis to ensure GPS remains the world’s premiere space-based position, navigation and timing system. 

Pence visited Schriever AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, along with Second Lady Karen Pence, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Gen. Jay Raymond, Air Force Space Command commander, for a space orientation in support of the administration’s relaunch of the National Space Council. 

Upon his arrival at Schriever, Pence met with base leadership for a discussion on the importance of space, and how it has become a warfighting domain. Then he met with more than 120 service members at The Satellite Dish, the base’s dining facility. 

“You direct no fewer than 175 American satellites that are crucial to our national security every day -- in weather, communications, and early warning of foreign missile tests.  Every American benefits from your efforts here -- the world’s only global utility, the GPS system that’s essential to our daily life,” Pence said.  “I can assure you that you have the support of your Commander-in-Chief and of his number two and of our entire administration.  You have the support of the Congress of the United States and the support of the American people that they represent.”

In addition to relaying his support for service members here and across the nation in the all-volunteer armed forces, the vice president also discussed some recent newsworthy items, such as the recently confirmed promotion of Col. DeAnna Burt, 50 SW commander, to brigadier general and the relaunch of the National Space Council.

“I’m pleased to report that nearly two decades after it was disbanded, in just a few short weeks the president will soon relaunch the National Space Council, and it will be my great honor as vice president of the United States to serve as its chairman, which has been a historic role for this office,” Pence said.   

After explaining his soon-to-be ties with space, Pence also highlighted the president’s proposed investment in the military, and specifically AFSPC.  

“In his first budget the Congress will take up this fall, the president called for the biggest increase in military spending since the days of Ronald Reagan -- including a nearly 20 percent increase in the Air Force space budget.  We’re going to fight to lead in space and we’re going to put the resources of the United States of America behind you,” Pence said. 

Other important announcements to the military members present included President Donald Trump’s signing of the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which will incentivize VA employees to provide America’s veterans with the care they deserve and hold these employees accountable when they fall short of their responsibilities. 

“I came today to say thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service that creates our freedom at home and our security around the world,” Pence said.  “When I look out around this room, I have faith.  I have faith that in the days ahead we will keep America safe.  That we’ll make it possible for America to prosper.” 

The visit started at Peterson AFB, and to continue their space mission focus, ended at Cheyenne Mountain AFS for a tour and briefing. 

Gen. Lori Robinson, Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, had the opportunity to show Pence and Wilson the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Alternate Command Center and discuss its missions at Cheyenne Mountain AFS. 

This is only the second time in Cheyenne Mountain AFS history a vice president has visited the facility. The daily mission of the mountain involves collecting information from satellites and ground-based radars from around the world to provide to NORAD, USNORTHCOM and U.S. Strategic Command.

The Vice President and the Secretary of the Air Force were educated on the complex’s construction and history, along with its missions. They saw firsthand how the Airmen of the 721st Mission Support Group, part of the 21st Space Wing, maintain vigilance through the inner workings of America’s fortress.

Both Cheyenne Mountain AFS and Schriever AFB play vital roles within Air Force Space Command’s mission of providing resilient space and cyberspace capabilities to the Joint Force and the nation.