. Military Space News .

Space Command retires workhorse satellite
by Scott Prater for 50th Space Wing
Schriever AFB CO (AFNS) Aug 18, 2011


Members of the 3rd Space Operations Squadron, along with their counterparts from the 53rd Signal Battalion, waved a fond farewell to a trusted old friend Aug. 12. Lt. Col. Kevin Mortensen, 3rd SOPS commander and Lt. Col. Benjamin Jones, 53rd SB commander, took the honors, shutting down the final components of the satellite simply known as "B9," with a couple of mouse clicks.

And with that, a Defense Satellite Communications System vehicle that served both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army for 18 years sent its last bit of vital information.

"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 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. The events it has been through bare some recognition in terms of how it has performed and the contribution it's made to extending the life of the DSCS constellation."

Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas II rocket July 19, 1993, DSCS B9 reached geosynchronous orbit on schedule and entered service following a two-month checkout.

While Air Force operations squadrons have controlled the space vehicle, its communications payload has been managed and operated by Army units. B9 served users as the West Pacific wideband satellite for most of its operational life.

According to Maj. Mike Reeder, 53 SB executive officer, B9 supported multiple missions, including the Diplomatic Telecommunications Service, the U.S. Navy's Surveillance

Towed Array Sensor System and the White House Communications Agency [presidential support]. It also supported U.S. military operations including Global Thunder and Terminal Fury and assisted in humanitarian efforts such as the Tsunami relief of 2004.

Spacecraft control authority for the entire DSCS constellation was transferred from the 5th Space Operations Squadron to 3 SOPS during 1996. Launched with a design life of 10 years, B9 easily blew through that envelope, serving for 13 years on orbit before telemetry data indicated that it was running low on fuel. Rather than give up and dispose of a fully functional satellite, the DSCS team refined and improved its fuel estimation capabilities and managed to squeeze an additional two and half year of life out of the spacecraft.

The DSCS team earned the 2006 Air Force Chief of Staff Team Excellence award for that specific effort on B9, but the old bird showed that it wasn't done just yet. During April 2008, B9 was placed in super synchronous orbit as a test asset.

"The best simulator on the ground is nowhere near as good as an actual satellite on orbit for realistic testing," Karahalis said. "The DCSC team has used B9 as a test asset for more than three years and we've made every effort to take full advantage of the unique opportunity."

As the spacecraft crept up in age, B9 was used in more than 15 end-of-life tests, which provided valuable information applicable to the entire DSCS constellation.

The spacecraft aided 3rd SOPS during anomaly investigations by allowing engineers to recreate abnormal conditions and helped extend the life of the constellation by enabling engineers to validate contingency procedures and mitigation strategies prior to implementation on operational vehicles.

"It has also provided a platform for running experimental procedures," Karahalis said. "This helps us push the operational envelope of the constellation and maximize spacecraft utility."

Capt. Kyle Volpe, 3rd SOPS' DSCS III engineering section chief, explained that B9's deactivation process was spread out over a two day period as crews first purged the vehicle of any remaining fuel and then began shutting off the payload and subsystem components on the subsequent day.

Even then, B9 refused to go quietly. Following a command to shutdown its reaction wheels, the satellite responded by deactivating only two of the four on board. It succumbed after the command was sent a second time, however, and few minutes later 3 SOPS and 53 SB members said their final farewells.

"DSCS B9's amazing mission accomplishment can be traced to the tremendous community that has supported it over the past 18 years," Mortensen said. "From Air Force and Army operators flying the satellite and payload, respectively, to our joint, acquisition, and industry partners working in close collaborations to ensure we provide National Command Authorities, Combatant Commanders, joint and allied forces, and other users around the world with reliable wideband satellite communications."

Related Links
Read the latest in Military Space Communications Technology at SpaceWar.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Raytheon Develops Miniature Antenna To Extend Millimeter Wave Friendly ID Technology
McKinney, TX (SPX) Aug 02, 2011
Raytheon has developed a miniaturized interrogation antenna capability to extend use of its Cooperative Target ID technology to soldiers and unmanned aircraft to help prevent fratricide. This effort builds upon an existing Raytheon antenna design and additional enhancements performed in concert with the U.S. Army CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD). The new ... read more

Raytheon Teams with Rafael to Market Iron Dome Weapon System

Airborne Infrared Sensor Cued In ABM Test With The Integrated Sensor Manager

Moscow warns NATO against extending missile shield

US destroys missile over Pacific in test

LockMart Demos Rocket Motor Survivability In Fixed-Wing Flight Environments

S. Korea developing anti-ship missiles: report

US jails Iranian over missile component plot

Taiwan developing new 'aircraft carrier killer'

Raytheon Unmanned Aircraft Systems Open Architecture Could Yield Cost Savings

Boeing Demonstrates Swarm Reconnaissance with Unmanned Aircraft

Raytheon Demonstrates Ground Control System to U.K. MOD for Scavenger UAV

Northrop Grumman Fire Scout Completes Successful At-Sea Deployment

Space Command retires workhorse satellite

Raytheon Develops Miniature Antenna To Extend Millimeter Wave Friendly ID Technology

China launches another experimental satellite

USAF Approves Production of NGC Deployable Digital Wireless System for Remote Warfighters

Revolutionary material dramatically increases explosive force of weapons

US army to develop next-generation combat vehicle

Raytheon Completes Improved Small Tactical Munition Lab Testing

Lockheed Martin to Provide Training Services for the USAF C-5 Program

Boeing ratchets up Brazil jet campaign

Eurocopter touts Russia market share

Argentina mulls higher defense spending

Russia's Viktor Bout 'never sold weapons': lawyer

Biden to meet China's leader-in-waiting

Biden heads to China under debt cloud

Clinton opposes budget cuts that hurt US Pacific presence

How e-mail helped Yeltsin outfox 1991 coup plot

Boeing and BAE Systems to Develop Integrated Directed Energy Weapon for US Navy

System Integration of High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator Completed

Raytheon Acquires Directed Energy Capabilities of Ktech Corporation

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement