? Members of the 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., shut down the Air Force’s oldest Defense Satellite Communications System spacecraft, ending the satellite’s more than two decades of providing communications to US military forces and national leadership. Lt. Col. Chris Todd, 3rd SOPS commander, on July 30 completed the remaining deactivation procedures on DSCS B12, according to Air Force Space Command’s Aug. 13 release. “After 22 years, we bid farewell to this wideband communications workhorse,” he said. “As with many Department of Defense satellites, DSCS B12 served the joint warfighter well beyond its 10-year projected lifespan,” he added. Launched into orbit in July 1992, the satellite operated from its perch in geosynchronous orbit more than 22,000 miles above the Earth over the western Pacific region, according to the release. In preparation for its retirement, 3rd SOPS airmen in June maneuvered B12 into a super synchronous orbit another 417 miles farther out. (See also Surefooted Satellite Turns 20.)
Within a brand-new, gleaming-white facility called the “high bay” at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, a battered and rusty-looking fuselage and left wing of a B-52H has become a laboratory for the government-industry team that will revamp the aged Stratofortress fleet for the next 30 years.