Space

September 21, 2012

Lockheed Martin marks defense meteorological satellite program 50th anniversary

Fifty years ago, a small weather satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

It was the first in a series that would later become known as the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, spanning 41 successful launches over a half-century, with two satellites still remaining to be sent into space. All were launched from VAFB into near-polar orbits allowing them to image the entire Earth, one slice at a time, as it rotated below.

 

“We congratulate the U.S. Air Force on this historic anniversary of a remarkable program that year after year has provided critical environmental data that enhanced our national security both strategically and tactically,” said Mark Valerio, vice president and general manager of Military Space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “As we reflect on Lockheed Martin’s 100 year anniversary, we are enormously proud of our 50-year partnership with the U.S. Air Force in advancing our nation’s defense weather mission. Since the very beginning of the program in 1962, Lockheed Martin has built every DMSP spacecraft, and this has been, and remains, a true source of pride for us.”

Initially, the DMSP program was highly classified and run by the National Reconnaissance Program, in support of the CORONA program, and its first reconnaissance satellites. The CORONA satellites took pictures on 70 mm film, and while each satellite carried up to 32,000 feet of film, it eventually would run out and the mission would end when the last film-return capsule re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific. Thus, it was essential to the success of the CORONA mission that timely and accurate DMSP forecasts be made over areas of interest so that cloud-free photography would be possible, taking maximum advantage of film limitations.

At 50 years, DMSP is the longest running production satellite program ever. During that time, DMSP satellites have saved many billions of dollars and countless human lives as a result of timely weather forecasts. While the NOAA TIROS program launched the first weather satellite in 1960, over the years the TIROS program became a recipient of DMSP technology in excess of $1 billion.

DMSP is still providing strategic and tactical weather prediction to aid the U.S. military in planning operations at sea, on land and in the air. Equipped with a sophisticated sensor suite that can image visible and infrared cloud cover and measure precipitation, surface temperature, and soil moisture, the satellites collect specialized global meteorological, oceanographic, and solar-geophysical information in all weather conditions. The DMSP constellation comprises two spacecraft in near-polar orbits, C3 (command, control and communications), user terminals and weather centers. The latest launch occurred Oct. 18, 2009, when DMSP F-18 roared into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

The current Block 5D-3 series accommodates larger sensor payloads than earlier generations. They also feature a larger capability power subsystem; a more powerful on-board computer with increased memory – allowing greater spacecraft autonomy – and increased battery capacity that extends the mean mission duration. Starting with F-17, the attitude control subsystem has also been enhanced with the integration of a second inertial measurement unit using ring laser, versus mechanical, gyros to provide greater precision pointing flexibility.

Two satellites remain to be launched, as needed, and are maintained at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., for storage, functional testing, and upgrading. The spacecraft are shipped to Vandenberg for launch when requested by the Air Force. The Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. manages the DMSP program.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Boeing concludes commercial crew space act agreement for CST-100/Atlas V

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket. NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing’...
 
 

NASA partners with leading technology innovators to enable future exploration

Recognizing that technology drives exploration, NASA has selected four teams of agency technologists for participation in the Early Career Initiative pilot program. The program encourages creativity and innovation among early career NASA technologists by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate c...
 
 

New commercial rocket descent data may help NASA with future Mars landings

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars. “Because the technologies required to land large payloads on Mars...
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI

NASA’s Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass

Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI The mammoth galaxy cluster Abell 2744 is so massive that its powerful gravity bends the light from galaxies far behind it, making these otherwise unseen background objects appear larger a...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA TV to air Russian spacewalk from International Space Station

NASA photograph Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency will don Orlan spacesuits and step outside the International Space Station Oct. 22, to perform wor...
 
 
Ball Aerospace photograph

Ball Aerospace green propellant infusion mission to host three DOD space experiments

Ball Aerospace photograph The NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will fly three Defense Department experimental hosted payloads when it launches in 2016. The NASA and Ball ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>