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News > Air Force Set for Launch of Next Vital Weather Satellite
Defense Meteorological Satellite Program
The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) has been collecting weather data for U.S. military operations for almost four decades.
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Air Force Set for Launch of Next Vital Weather Satellite

Posted 10/16/2009   Updated 10/16/2009 Email story   Print story


Release Number: 011009

10/16/2009 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, EL SEGUNDO, Calif.  -- The Air Force is set to launch its next Defense Meteorological Program satellite, DMSP Flight 18, from Vandenberg Air Force Base's Space Launch Complex 3, Sunday, October 18. The launch is scheduled to occur within a 10 minute window beginning at 9: 12 a.m. PDT.

The DMSP mission is to generate terrestrial and space weather data for operational forces worldwide. The Air Force is the Department of Defense's executive agent for this program. The data from this program is also furnished to the civilian community through the Department of Commerce.

"DMSP has been providing weather related data to the nation for nearly 50 years, said Col. Steve Pluntze, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Systems Group Commander at Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center. We are very proud of the DMSP legacy in providing this weather mission for the nation. I look forward to working with the rest of the launch team for mission success."

SMC, The Aerospace Corporation and The United Launch Alliance have spent many months preparing the space lift vehicle for this vital weather mission, the 51st in a long history of the DMSP program.

"This mission represents another significant milestone for the Air Force's Atlas V program, said Col. Michael Moran, Mission Director for Flt 18 mission and Atlas V Group Commander at SMC's Launch and Range Systems Wing.

This launch will be the 600th in the history of the Atlas program. From its beginnings in the late 1950s, the Atlas program has evolved to meet the challenges of spacelift into the 21st century. Our integrated government and industry team will continue to verify that all launch vehicle and spacecraft systems continue to meet the rigorous standards for flight readiness as we proceed toward launch."

DMSP satellites circle the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles in a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit. Satellites are three-axis stabilized and provide precision pointing to support

mission sensors. The primary sensor on board is the Operational Linescan System that observes clouds via visible and infrared imagery for use in worldwide forecasts. Each scan covers an area 1800 miles wide and covers the entire Earth in about 12 hours. 

A second important sensor is the Special Sensor Microwave Imager Sounder, which provides all-weather capability for worldwide tactical operations and is particularly useful in typing and forecasting severe storm activity. The spacecraft also carries a suite of additional sensors, which collect a broad range of meteorological and space environmental data for forecasting and analysis.

The launch broadcast may be captured via satellite downlink using the information below:

Start Date/Time: 10/18/09 8:30:00 a.m. PDT

End Date/Time: 10/18/09 9:45:00 a.m. PDT

Bars and Tone: 8:30:00 AM - 8:51:00 a.m. PDT

Disclaimer: 8:51:00 a.m. PDT

Broadcast Start: 8:52:00 a.m. PDT

Satellite: Galaxy 19C

Transponder: 13

Orbital Position: 97 Degrees West

Downlink Frequency: 3960.00 (V)

The launch may also be viewed by webcast at: www.ulalaunch.com

Media representatives wishing to interview a subject matter expert or learn about this launch event should send an e-mail to: smcpa.media@losangeles.af.mil or call 310-653 2369/2479/2370 or 714-390-3876

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