Satellite transmissions cease, no impact to weather mission

  • Published
  • 50th Space Wing Public Affairs

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19 ceased transmitting weather data after nearly three and a half years of operational service to Department of Defense and civilian agencies.

On Feb. 11, 2016, operators lost the ability to command the satellite following a power failure within the command and control system.  The DMSP operations team remained in regular contact with the vehicle and continued to monitor telemetry. However, a loss of attitude control was unavoidable due to the inability to command.  The satellite lost attitude control and tumbled, causing the power system to deplete and all satellite transmissions to cease.   The tumble began this month and subsequent power will deplete in the coming days.  The Joint Space Operations Center will track the satellite and provide conjunction warnings, if required.


There is no impact to the strategic weather mission, and the remaining satellites are able to support warfighter requirements through resilient systems and processes.  The remainder of the satellites continue to provide weather and atmospheric data to users as it has for the past five decades. 


DMSP F-19 was launched in April 2014.  From operational acceptance in June 2014 to February 2016, the satellite provided thousands of hours of weather imagery to the 557th Weather Wing, Offutt AFB, Nebraska, the U.S. Navy's Fleet Numerical Meteorological Oceanography Center, Monterey, California and the National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland.


While space-based weather assets were originally launched and operated by the U.S. Air Force, a 1994 presidential directive realigned primary command and control of DMSP under the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The DMSP constellation is operated by a coalition of mission partners consisting of the NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations and the 50th Operations Group Detachment 1, both located in Suitland, Maryland. 


Specifically, the 50th Operations Group, Detachment 1, a component of the 50th Operations Group has Satellite Control Authority and delegates nominal day-to-day operations to the NOAA DMSP operators.  A backup operations center, operated by the Air Force Reserve’s 6th Space Operations Squadron, is located at Schriever AFB, Colorado.