Surefooted Satellite Turns 20

The Defense Satellite Communications Systems B10 satellite marked 20 years in orbit in late November, officially outliving its designed operational life twice over. B10 began its career supplying wideband communications to US Strategic Command, blasting off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Nov. 28, 1993, according to officials at Schriever AFB, Colo. Two years ago, the aging satellite was retasked for software trial duties. “We wanted to hold it in place like an operational satellite so we could test how DSCS communications payloads respond,” explained DSCS engineering chief 1st Lt. Alexander Fiore. “The B10 vehicle allows our team to test various procedures out before we implement them on an operational asset,” he added. Since B10 requires little fuel to maintain its very stable orbit, 3rd Space Operations Squadron controllers plan to squeeze at least another two years of testing from the satellite. (Schriever report by Scott Prater)