Tuesday, December 18, 2007

DMSP Flight-18 spacecraft Shipped to Vandenberg

Officials at the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Systems Group announced today they have successfully shipped the DMSP Flight -18 spacecraft from a Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The spacecraft was shipped aboard a C17 Globemaster III assigned to the 21st Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base and departed Moffett Field, Calif., early this morning.

"Shipment of F-18 from the factory to VAFB is a significant milestone in the launch preparation process," said Col. Bradley Smith, commander, Defense Meteorological Systems Group. "F-18 has completed several retrofits, modifications, sensor integrations and a full gambit of mechanical, electrical and environmental testing over the past 18 months at Lockheed Martin Space Systems."

The successful shipment and placement of the spacecraft into the Payload Integration and Testing Facility at VAFB signifies completion of all environmental testing. The spacecraft will continue to undergo final preparation for launch processing.

The 30th Launch Support Squadron is responsible for the care and handling of the vehicle from the moment it arrives at VAFB to launch. At VAFB, F-18 will undergo routine integration and testing, including integration of the ultraviolet sensor from Northrop Grumman and flight battery integration and checkout.

Then it will be transported to an encapsulation facility where it will be mated with the Atlas V booster. F-18 is scheduled to be launched next summer and will replace DMSP F-16 which was launched in 2003.