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Weather satellite SCA momentous for 50 OG commander

DMSP Block 5D-3 is the eleventh and newest version of the DMSP satellite.

An artist's rendition of a Defense Meteorlogical Satellite Program Block 5D-3 satellite on orbit. The 50th Operations Group recently accepted satellite control authority for DMSP Flight 19, a Block 5D-3 vehicle. (courtesy graphic)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 50th Operations Group accepted satellite control authority of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight-19 satellite June 25, but it was no ordinary ceremony.

The event turned out to be a milestone for Col. Tommy Roberts, former 50 OG commander. It marked the 10th satellite transferred to the 50 OG since he took command two years ago, while also signaling his last SCA, as it occurred two days before his retirement from the Air Force.

Col. Scott Larrimore, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center's Defense Weather Systems Directorate, started the ceremony by transferring control authority to the 14th Air Force commander, who in turn tasks the 50th Space Wing to operate the satellite in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

When it came time for the 50th Space Wing to accept SCA, Col. Bill Liquori,
50 SW commander, explained that the event marked a special time for the wing, group and Roberts.

"This one is significant for us," Liquori said. "This is the 70th satellite we have accepted into operations here at the 50 SW and Col. Tommy Roberts has been here for the past 10 of those."

Liquori, then gave honors to Roberts, who tasked 50 OG Detachment 1 to continue the partnership with NOAA by adding DMSP F-19 to the current constellation.

"When I was the 4 SOPS commander, I was supposed to be here for an advanced extremely high frequency satellite launch and it never happened in my tenure," Roberts said. "But, since I've been back it's been neat to be involved with so many SCA transfers as the OG commander during such a short period of time. Those 10 SCA transfers I think encompassed four different mission areas so this wasn't isolated to one element of the group and so I'm incredibly proud of the team efforts across all of those mission areas."

Vehicle F-19 is the seventh satellite in the DMSP constellation. DMSP satellites are used to monitor meteorological, oceanographic and solar-terrestrial physics for the Department of Defense. It is the DOD's sole weather satellite program and provides critical meteorological and environmental data to military and civilian users worldwide.

The constellation provides cloud cover imagery from polar orbits that are sun-synchronous at an altitude of 450 nautical miles.

This SCA comes almost five years after vehicle F-18 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California in October 2009.

Since its April 3 launch, DMSP check-out crews have been conducting early orbit system testing and mission sensor calibration.

"It's amazing to think we have 70 on-orbit assets now," Roberts said.
"They're delivering effects on a daily basis, including an unbelievable increase in communications bandwidth, weather support, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, space situational awareness, and position navigation and timing."