As reported by the Denver Post: It's hard to imagine life without GPS technology.
We rely on it daily to navigate cities, schedule flights, receive severe weather warnings and check in on Facebook.
A mere two decades ago, it was not even a thing.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Global Positioning System being declared fully operational by the U.S. Air Force.
Since that time — July 17, 1995, to be exact — GPS technology has become commonplace in both military and civilian life.
What few realize is that the worldwide GPS network is a military operation — provided for free — operated right here in Colorado by the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.
"Since 1995, GPS has been the gold standard for global space-based navigation, providing highly reliable and accurate navigation and timing signals to users around the world," said Air Force Space Command chief Gen. John E. Hyten in a statement.
Space-related projects like GPS contribute about 163,000 jobs to Colorado, making the state first for the amount of private aerospace workers per capita, according to data from the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.
There are 4 billion GPS-enabled devices worldwide — a number that's expected to double in the next five years — and the global GPS market is estimated to reach more than $26 billion in value by 2016, per the EDC.
This can only help Colorado because geospatial technologies, remote sensing and satellite-based services make up the bulk of the state's space economy to the tune of $6.3 billion in annual revenue, according to the EDC.
On Wednesday, Centennial-based United Launch Alliance added another satellite to the $3.6 billion GPS network with the launch of GPS IIF-10 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
In fact, every operational GPS mission has been launched by ULA or vehicles from the two companies that make up ULA: Littleton-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems' Atlas rocket or Boeing's Delta rocket.
Gov. John Hickenlooper will declare Friday as "GPS Day" to recognize the myriad contributions of Colorado companies, among them ground control systems from Aurora-based Raytheon and Colorado Springs-based Braxton Technologies, and next-gen GPS technologies, such as the forthcoming GPS-III satellites from Lockheed Martin Space Systems.