Air Force Retires Veteran Satellite

The 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., shut down a satellite known as B9 after it served nearly twice its anticipated life expectancy. The Defense Satellite Communications System vehicle was operated by the Air Force, but its communications payload was managed and operated by the Army. The satellite has provided presidential support as well as support to a host of military missions, including the 2004 Tsunami relief effort in Sri Lanka, according to a release. “A lot of world events happened under the footprint of this satellite,” said Lt. Col. Greg Karahalis, 3rd SOPS operations officer. “It’s 18 years old and [has] been in service on active duty longer than many of us. It’s a soldier and an airman, and that’s how we like to talk about it.” B9 was designed with an expected 10-year shelf life, but it didn’t run low on fuel until year 13. The DSCS team “refined and improved its fuel estimation capabilities,” squeezing another two and half years out of it. In April 2008, the satellite was placed in super synchronous orbit as a test asset.