Newest USAF Environmental Satellite Launched
The U.S. Air Force launched its latest meteorological satellite Oct. 20.
(Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) F-18 Block 5D-3 spacecraft accommodates larger sensor payloads than earlier generations and 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.
The F-18 Block satellites, built by Lockheed Martin, is equipped with a sophisticated sensor suite that can image visible and infrared cloud cover 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; command, control and communications; user terminals and weather centers.
"After several years of building, integrating, upgrading and testing DMSP F-18...it was enormously satisfying to see this morning's launch and hear that we have a healthy satellite on orbit that will carry out its vital mission of supporting our war fighters," Sue Stretch, Lockheed Martin DMSP program director, said in a statement. "Our partnership with the Air Force dates to the very beginning of the DMSP program with a common goal of ensuring that commanders have access to environmental data critical to the preparation and execution of military operations."
Following DMSP F-18, two satellites remain to be launched and are maintained at Space Systems' operations in Sunnyvale, Calif., for storage, functional testing and upgrading. The spacecraft are shipped to Vandenberg for launch when requested by the Air Force. Since 1965, 37 Lockheed Martin DMSP satellites have been launched successfully by the U.S. Air Force.