The 3.5-m telescope at the Starfire Optical Range (SOR), operated by the Directed Energy Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, NM saw first light in February, 1994 and first operation of the adaptive optics in September, 1997. The primary mirror built by Steward Observatory Mirror Lab is spun cast borosilicate, actively supported and temperature conditioned. The telescope mount was designed to smoothly track low-earth-orbiting (LEO) satellites and therefore has different features than most telescopes designed for astronomy. The protective enclosure retracts vertically, leaving the telescope completely exposed, enabling access to rapidly moving targets. The telescope feeds a coude laboratory containing steering mirrors, deformable mirror, sensors for wave front control and target tracking, high resolution cameras, and lasers for beacons and energy projection experiments. This paper summarizes recent operating experiences and provides lessons learned in terms of thermal conditioning, mount control, mirror control, mirror cleaning, optical alignment, and satellite tracking. The operation and performance of the tracking and higher-order wave front compensation to LEO satellites will be presented. Plans for future upgrades will be described.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.