US: A USD 518 million military weather satellite gearing up to be launched into orbit atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the western spaceport in California. Liftoff of the satellite named Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Flight 19 spacecraft is planned at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Outfitted with a suite of seven sensors, DMSP provides the military with visible and infrared cloud pictures, measures precipitation, surface temperatures and soil moisture, and collects space weather data. But as past satellites were flown and ended up exceeding their design lives in orbit, the launch date for Flight 19 kept getting postponed. However, the Lockheed Martin-built satellite is finally needed in space.
"The program` was supposed to have flown out years ago. Success, though, believe it or not, was the cause of the delay. The last block of satellites has lasted significantly longer than anyone projected. So when this satellite was originally built the plan was for it to be launched shortly after it was finished," said Lt Col James Bodnar, 4th Space Launch Squadron commander at Vandenberg.
Source: Space flight now