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Satnews Daily
August 7th, 2017

Satellite that Doesn't Obey Will Have 'Plug Pulled'  ... DMSP Flight 19 Will Begin Tumbling 

A run of three and a half years and now the USAF will end the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Flight 19 which transmitted weather data. USAF indicates there is no impact to the strategic weather mission and the remainder of the DMSP's constellation is able to support military requirements.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 launches the Defense Meteorological Satellite System (DMSP)-F19 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on April 3, 2014. Credit: United Launch Alliance

A power failure within the command and control system on February 11, 2016 made it impossible for the operators to command the satellite. What the satellite was able to provide was tactical data to field units but what it has not provided is full-orbit weather imagery to the bases relying on the information; the 557th Weather Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska and the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, Monterey, California. The rest of the strategic weather mission went forward through resilient systems and processes.

Because the Air Force couldn't command the satellite the only thing they could do was monitor the telemetry, resulting in a loss of attitude control.The remainder of the constellation continues to provide weather and atmospheric data to users.

What happens next is that once the satellite loses attitude control it will begin to tumble, depleting the power system and ending all satellite transmissions. The Joint Space Operations Center will track the satellite and provide warnings if required when the tumble occurs late September.

DMSP F-19 was launched in April 2014. Originally space-based weather assets were originally launched and operated by the U.S. Air Force until a presidential directive realigned primary command and control of DMSP under the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1994.