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ILS Atlas V Gets Go Ahead To Launch Defense Weather Satellite

A file illustration of the DMSP in orbit.

McLean VA (SPX) Dec 23, 2005
International Launch Services (ILS) has received authorization from the U.S. Air Force to proceed with the launch of a military weather satellite on an Atlas V vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The launch is scheduled for late 2007 with a spacecraft built for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Both the Atlas vehicle and the satellite, known as DMSP-18, are built by Lockheed Martin.

This mission was assigned to Lockheed Martin through ILS under the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. This is the ninth of 16 assignments to be placed under a firm contract with go-ahead for launch.

ILS President Mark Albrecht said, "This will be the first flight of DMSP on Atlas V. We look forward to partnering again with our Air Force customer on an important mission that will aid and protect the men and women serving our country in all branches of the military."

The Atlas V vehicle will launch in the "401" configuration, standing 57 meters (188 feet) tall with a 4-meter-diameter (13.75-foot) payload fairing. Atlas V vehicles in this configuration flew successfully in August 2002, May 2003 and August 2005.

DMSP spacecraft are used for strategic and tactical weather prediction to aid the U.S. military in planning operations at sea, on land and in the air. Equipped with sophisticated sensors that operate in both the visible and infrared spectra to peer through cloud cover, the satellite collects specialized meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical information in all weather conditions. Since 1965, 43 Lockheed Martin-built DMSP satellites have been launched successfully by the Air Force.

Lockheed Martin has refurbished Space Launch Complex (SLC) 3-East at Vandenberg to accommodate the Atlas V vehicle. The first launch scheduled from the new pad is a mission for the National Reconnaissance Office in 2006. Launches from Vandenberg are used primarily to place satellites into low-earth, high-inclination orbits, such as polar and sun-synchronous orbits.

ILS markets and manages government and commercial missions on the Atlas V vehicle to customers worldwide. The company is headquartered in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 135,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2004 sales of $35.5 billion.

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Ariane 5 ECA Launches A Weather Satellite
Paris (AFP) Dec 22, 2005
An Ariane-5 ECA launcher carrying Europe's latest weather satellite lifted off from the Kourou base in French Guiana late Wednesday, European group Arianespace said.

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