WASHINGTON — The first of two refurbished weather satellites for the U.S. Air Force was delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Aug. 1 in preparation for a March 2014 launch.

The satellite is part of the Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), which is responsible for providing global atmospheric, oceanic, terrestrial and space environment information. Military users often depend on the satellites to forecast weather systems over remote and hostile areas for troops.

DMSP Flight 19 is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas 5 rocket supplied by United Launch Alliance of Denver.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., is DMSP prime contractor.   

“We’re proud to have our fourth Block 5D-3 spacecraft at the launch site,” Sue Stretch, DMSP program director at Lockheed Martin, said in a press release Aug. 2. “We’ve produced almost 50 defense weather satellites in 50 years, and our block 5D3 DMSP satellites deliver evolved capability.”

DMSP Flight 19 is one of two 1990s-vintage satellites the Air Force has been refurbishing with new sensors. The second, DMSP Flight 20, is expected to launch in 2015. The satellites are the last for DMSP, which has provided weather data to the Pentagon since the 1960s. 

The Air Force is studying options for a follow-on system but has yet to decide on an approach. 

The Air Force requested $133 million for DMSP for 2014.

Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...