WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Department has accepted for operations the second-to-last satellite in the Air Force’s long-running Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) series, according to a Sept. 16 press release from Lockheed Martin, the program’s prime contractor. The satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, April 3.
The DMSP program, which dates back to the 1960s, is responsible for providing global atmospheric, oceanic, terrestrial and space-environment information in support of military operations. The satellites also support the nation’s intelligence-gathering program by determining the most opportune times to collect cloud-free imagery.
DMSP Flight 19 is one of two 1990s-vintage satellites the Air Force refurbished with new components. The last satellite in the series, DMSP Flight 20, will be launched on an as-needed schedule.
U.S. Strategic Command accepted the satellite Aug. 19 following on-orbit checkout, the release said. A team of Air Force and U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration personnel will control the satellite from Suitland, Maryland.
“DMSP-19 delivers information for important military decisions, from flight patterns to troop movements, and its information will be used by civilians for everyday weather forecasting and warning,” Sue Stretch, DMSP program director at Denver-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said in the release.
DMSP-19 is one of six DMSP satellites in polar orbit.
The DMSP satellites will be replaced starting around 2020 by a follow-on system featuring dedicated Air Force satellites providing data in concert with U.S. civilian and allied forecasting assets. The Air Force’s 2015 budget request includes $40 million to begin developing the system, which has been under study since the 2010 cancellation of a joint civil-military polar-orbiting weather satellite program.