LOCKHEED MARTIN COMPANIES LAUNCH MILITARY WEATHER SATELLITE
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CA, December 12th, 1999 -- The U.S. Air Force today launched the first of a new generation of military weather satellites aboard a Titan II rocket. Lockheed Martin provided both the satellite and the Titan II space launch vehicle. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., built the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Block 5D-3 spacecraft under contract to the U.S. Air Force and Denver, Colo.-based Lockheed Martin Astronautics provided the booster. The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., manages the DMSP and Titan programs.
"We are extremely pleased with the DMSP Block 5D-3 spacecraft and today's successful launch of this latest weather satellite for our nation's military," said Anthony Tuffo, president of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space. "The DMSP program and the long-standing relationship with our Air Force customer is a source of genuine pride for our company."
"Titan II's proven nine-for-nine record of reliability is a credit to the Air Force-Lockheed Martin Titan II team," said Astronautics President G. Thomas Marsh.
This was the ninth consecutive successful launch of a Titan II space launch vehicle and the first since June 19, 1999. Titan IIs formerly served as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), key elements of the nation's strategic deterrent for more than two decades. Titan IIs also launched 10 manned and two unmanned missions for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Gemini program in the 1960s. The Titan II rocket launched today was one of 14 two-stage, liquid-fueled former ICBMs Astronautics refurbished for Air Force space launches.
The DMSP Block 5D-3 series can accommodate larger sensor payloads than earlier generations. They also feature a larger power supply; a more powerful on-board computer with increased memory -- allowing greater spacecraft autonomy -- and increased battery power that will extend the mean mission duration.
Within two hours of launch, the DMSP early-orbit team at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md., will begin checkout of the spacecraft. These procedures are scheduled to take about 10 days. An instrument checkout will follow, requiring an additional two weeks. When the spacecraft is declared operational, the satellite will be turned over to the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Integrated Program Office (IPO). The IPO assistant director of Operations will then delegate operational responsibility to the NOAA Office of Satellite Operations.
DMSP, operated by NOAA, is used for 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 create visible and infrared images of cloud cover, the satellite collects specialized meteorological and oceanographic information as well as data about the sun's affect on the Earth in all weather conditions. The DMSP constellation comprises two spacecraft in near-polar Earth orbits and ground-based electronic control facilities and equipment for military users.
The most recent launch of a DMSP spacecraft took place April 4, 1997, from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a Titan II. That launch marked the last of the Block 5D-2 satellites.
Missiles & Space currently maintains a backlog of six completed spacecraft for storage, functional testing and upgrading. The satellites are shipped to Vandenberg when requested by the Air Force. Since 1966, the Air Force has launched more than 30 Lockheed Martin DMSP satellites. Now in its fourth decade of service, the DMSP has proven to be a valuable tool in scheduling and protecting military operations on land, at sea and in the air.
Astronautics and Missiles & Space are two of the operating units of Lockheed Martin's Space Systems business area. Astronautics designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Chief products include space launch systems, planetary spacecraft and other space systems and ground systems. Missiles & Space is a leading supplier of satellites to military, civil government and commercial communications organizations around the world. These spacecraft have enhanced military and civilian communications; provided new, extensive and timely weather data; studied the Earth and space; and furnished new data for thousands of scientists studying our planet and the space around it.
Evan McCollum, Astronautics: 303-263-7126 (cell)888-617-1239 (pager)e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org