Press Release

Military Weather Satellite Built by Lockheed Martin Achieves Five Years on Orbit, Exceeding Design Life

By SpaceRef Editor
November 7, 2008
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Constellation Projected to Provide Critical Weather Data for Years to Come

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Flight 16 (F16) Block 5D-3 spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT – News), has surpassed five years of on-orbit operations and continues to provide critical weather data to the warfighter, one year beyond its four year design life. The DMSP constellation is built under contract for the U.S. Air Force and is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As a result of the constellation’s exceptional performance, stability and longevity, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. has elected to postpone the planned November 2008 launch of the replacement F18 DMSP spacecraft, preserving future launch options.

“We take great pride in DMSP’s sustained record of performance serving the warfighter,” said Sue Stretch, Lockheed Martin’s DMSP program director. “Our partnership with the Air Force ensures commanders have timely access to environmental data critical to the preparation and execution of military operations and we look forward to providing continued success for our customer.”

DMSP 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 image cloud cover in visible and infrared bands and measure precipitation, surface temperature and soil moisture, the satellite collects specialized global meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical information in all weather conditions.

The DMSP constellation comprises two spacecraft in near-polar orbits, C3 (command, control and communications), user terminals and weather centers. The final replacement satellites are maintained at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif. for storage, functional testing and upgrading until the spacecraft are shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. for launch when requested by the Air Force.

Leveraging 48 years of experience building the DMSP weather satellites, the civilian TIROS satellites, and other space systems, Lockheed Martin is competing to build NOAA’s next generation spacecraft, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite — Series R (GOES-R). The future GOES-R mission will improve the quality and timeliness of weather forecasts to the commercial, educational and public sectors to protect lives, property and the environment, and to foster economic growth and promote educational research.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; fleet ballistic missiles; and missile defense systems.

Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2007 sales of $41.9 billion.

SpaceRef staff editor.