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The Big Three: GPSOC, NAVCEN, NOCC

More about the centers that provide a port of entry for any GPS user on the globe

Today, three centers of excellence - the GPSOC, the NAVCEN, and the FAA’s National Operations Control Center (NOCC) - privately referred to as the Big Three, provide a supporting “port of entry” to any GPS user on the globe.

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Before the GPS Operations Center (GPSOC) existed, a general officer was once quoted as saying he could get better GPS support by taking off his military hat, putting on his fishing hat, and calling the U.S. Coast Guard’s Navigation Center (NAVCEN). At the time, the Coast Guard was the only governmental organization supporting GPS users.

Today, three centers of excellence — the GPSOC, the NAVCEN, and the FAA’s National Operations Control Center (NOCC) — privately referred to as the Big Three, provide a supporting “port of entry” to any GPS user on the globe.

The GPSOC primarily serves as the Department of Defense (DoD) GPS user focal point. The NAVCEN remains the primary support node to non-aviation and nonmilitary civil/commercial users with GPS issues. The NOCC handles aviation, safety of flight, and National Air Space GPS issues.

Any problem these centers receive requiring in-depth or specific knowledge are coordinated with the GPSOC for analysis. While the individual responsibilities for each GPS center seem pretty clear-cut, in reality, we find that the centers work closely together on nearly every GPS concern.

How It All Began
In mid-August of 1999, the first GPS epoch rollover was about to occur. With the number of weeks the GPS navigation message could track rapidly reaching its maximum, the GPS Support Center was stood up in time to watch for receiver anomalies.

This was an important first test of the preparedness of the center — Y2K was on its way. Luckily, the epoch rollover only caused a few incidents, and they all were handled deftly by the new U.S. Commander in Chief, Space–owned GPS Support Center (GSC).

The GSC was later fully absorbed by the 2nd Space Operations Squadron’s GPS Operations Center (GPSOC) in Colorado Springs

As the original sponsoring organization of the GPSOC, U.S. Space Command chartered the GPSOC to provide all U.S., allied, and coalition military organizations with the GPS support they needed. The GPSOC forged operating agreements with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Joint Spectrum Center, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the civilian Federal Communications Commission.

These groups continue to form an essential link to solving complex GPS problems that involve GPS outages and interference issues for civilians and the military.

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