The US Air Force (USAF) has successfully test launched the 19th Lockheed Martin-built defence meteorological satellite program (DMSP) block 5D weather satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US.
Launched aboard an Atlas V rocket, the satellite is expected to orbit the Earth at an altitude of about 847km, in a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit.
Lockheed Martin DMSP programme director Sue Stretch said the 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," Stretch said.
US Space and Missile Systems Center’s Defense Weather Systems Directorate director colonel Scott Larrimore said, "The launch of DMSP-19 continues the vital weather support to operational commanders for another decade."
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Systems, the DMSP-19 satellite hosts two primary sensors, namely the operational linescan system (OLS) that provides visible and infrared cloud data, and the Northrop Grumman special sensor microwave imager sounder (SSMIS).
Apart from detecting precipitation, surface temperature and soil moisture, the SSMIS provides all-weather capability for worldwide tactical operations and is particularly useful in typing and forecasting severe storm activity.
The spacecraft is also fitted with a suite of additional sensors that collect a broad range of meteorological and space environmental data for forecasting and analysis, more capable power subsystem, upgraded on-board computer, new attitude control subsystem and a star tracker.
DMSP satellite collects and provides terrestrial, space environment and Earth surface data to help the US military in the planning of operations on the ground, at sea and in the air.
The satellite primarily helps the US military weather forecasters detect weather developing patterns and track presence of severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and typhoons over remote areas.
The USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) is the concerned authority for procurement and development of DMSP systems.
Image: An Atlas V rocket carrying USAF’s DMSP-19 weather satellite lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US. Photo: ULA.