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Goodbye, SVN-15 “Firebird”


Just like people, satellites have a limited life-span. And so today we say goodbye to a dear old friend who has guided us through the last sixteen years. SVN-15 was better known to closest friends as “Firebird”, a nickname pinned on SVN-15 by co-workers at Boeing. Born (errr… launched) on October 1, 1990 the first few minutes of life were scary, being hurled along at thousands of miles per hour from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Over the years SVN-15 has been a great friend to many people. The Air Force thanks Firebird for helping to guide munitions during Desert Storm. In fact, Firebird was dedicated to military service through much of the earlier years.

More recently SVN-15 has served an increasing number of civilian users around the world, helping guide them to their own life destinations and enjoying outdoor activities together such as hiking and geocaching.

With a life expectancy of about seven or eight years, SVN-15 has lived twice as long as expected. However old age has taken its toll, and the Firebird’s internal clock (literally) has stopped ticking at the prudent pace. The 1st Space Operations Squadron has taken back good ol’ SVN-15 and in about a month will send Firebird into disposable orbit.

Thanks for the years, Firebird.

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