Atlas V Launches Weather Sat

An Air Force Space Command and industry team at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., on Saturday morning successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V expendable launch vehicle to place a Lockheed Martin-built Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft (DMSP Flight 18) into orbit. It was the 51st DMSP launch and the 600th for an Atlas booster. DMSP spacecraft provide weather data for US military forces and the civilian community. Of the launch, Col. Steve Winters, 30th Space Wing vice commander at Vandenberg, said, “Spacelift operations are an immense technical undertaking and, once again, Vandenberg has delivered.” Once declared operation, the new DMSP will be managed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration with support from Air Force Reserve Command’s 6th Space Operations Squadron at Schreiver AFB, Colo. (Vandy release; ULA release)