A Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite built by Lockheed Martin was successfully launched today at 7:46 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. atop an Atlas V rocket. Lockheed Martin confirmed signal acquisition shortly after launch.
DMSP-19 is the fourth Block 5D-3 version to be launched, and Lockheed Martin has produced more than 40 satellites throughout the program’s 50-year history. Many of the satellites are performing beyond their design life, so adding on-orbit capability is important for reliable weather information.
“Lockheed Martin and the Air Force have partnered on DMSP for more than 50 years, and it’s an effective team. The constellation is significantly outliving its design life,” said Sue Stretch, DMSP program director at Lockheed Martin. “This new satellite informs some of the most important decisions in the armed forces, from flight patterns to troop movements. Simply put, weather data is essential to both our military operations and civilian safety.”
The satellite launched today is equipped with a sophisticated sensor suite that can capture visible and infrared cloud cover; measure precipitation, surface temperature and soil moisture; and collect specialized global meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical information in all weather conditions. DMSP-19 joins six other satellites in polar orbit providing weather information.
Several features on DMSP-19 improve reliability and performance. Those include a more capable power subsystem, an upgraded on-board computer and better battery capacity that extends mission life. Additionally, the satellite carries a new attitude control subsystem and a star tracker. The current Block 5D series also accommodates larger sensor payloads than earlier generations.
The nation’s space weather capability extends beyond DMSP. Lockheed Martin continues to modernize that mission through the NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series (GOES-R), scheduled to launch in 2016.
At the launch, Lockheed Martin hosted five teachers from Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME), which matches teachers with industry so they see how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) applies in the workforce. Afterward, employees visited a local elementary school to lead three STEM activities as part of Lockheed Martin’s Launch and Learn program, designed to bring STEM-related activities to launches and their local communities.
Today’s launch is the first in five years for DMSP. The previous one was October 18, 2009, when DMSP-18 joined the constellation. The DMSP program is led by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., and control is provided by a joint team of the U.S. Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Suitland, Md. DMSP satellites are integrated and tested at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Sunnyvale, Calif.