DMSP-19’s loss prompts on-orbit shuffle
The U.S. Air Force has given up on efforts to recover Defense Meteorological Weather Satellite Program spacraft that malfunctioned last month. Air Force Space Command said March 24 they have “ceased all recovery efforts” for the DMSP-19 weather satellite, which stopped responding to commands Feb. 11. The satellite, launched less than two years ago, had a five-year design life. An older DMSP satellite, launched in 2006, has moved from a backup to a primary role as a result of the DMSP-19 failure. Here’s the status of seven other satellites in the constellation:
Orbital ATK, which is in full production on an 81-satellite Iridium NEXT order and ramping up work on the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 spacecraft for NOAA and NASA, is expanding its satellite factory in Arizona with help from the state government. The company announced March 18 it will expand its Gilbert, Arizona, satellite factory by nearly 5,600 square meters, creating 155 new jobs. The Arizona Commerce Authority is providing a $750,000 grant to support the expansion. The company currently employs more than 1,750 people in the state, counting facilities in nearby Chandler and Mesa. In addition to the Iridium and NOAA work, Orbital ATK said March 24 that it has “several other active programs for other customers and excellent prospects for new business, which will add to our Gilbert activities.”
Images from a commercial camera on the International Space Station provide new evidence Iran is close to conducting another satellite launch. The images, taken by an UrtheCast camera mounted on the station’s Russian segment, show launch preparations underway at an Iranian site in early March. Previous reports have suggested Iran will attempt the launch of a small launch vehicle in the near future, although an early March launch window came and went without a liftoff.
Verbatim | That’s probably the only time
“When else are we going to get to roller skate down the street with foil hats on, holding a sign that says ‘God Loves Uranus’?”
— Amy Callner, who, with science educator Margaret Hart, staged a counterprotest March 21 outside NASA Headquarters in response to a protest by the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, which is apparently opposed to NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
— Former ULA vice president Brett Tobey, explaining during a University of Colorado, Boulder, seminar that United Launch Alliance’s corporate parents, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, approve funding for ULA’s next-generation Vulcan rocket on a quarterly basis. Tobey resigned his position as ULA’s vice president of engineering after ULA disavowed his remarks.