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Air Force News

Air Force turns over weather satellite control to NOAA

Released: Jun 2, 1998

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Air Force Space Command and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration combined operations of their separate weather satellite systems into a single system May 29.

This merger creates the most technologically advanced weather sensing system in the world and gives the Air Force major savings in the future.

Overseeing the agreement was Brig. Gen. Robert C. Hinson, AFSPC director of operations, and Robert S. Winokur, NOAA's assistant administrator for satellite information services.

The Air Force transferred operation of the military weather satellite system, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, May 29 to NOAA's National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Integrated Program Office. NOAA will merge DMSP with their current civilian satellite system, called the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite, and head a single system serving both civilian and military customers.

"This merger is a force-multiplier, maximizing efforts of personnel and material resources," said Hinson. "By giving operational control of DMSP to NOAA, we'll realize savings that can be applied to other important military space programs."

"The transfer of DMSP operations to the Integrated Program Office marks another major, important milestone in our commitment to implementing weather satellite convergence, and building a true operational partnership to satisfy the requirements of the civil and military weather community," Winokur said.

Winokur said that the convergence is a true success story.

"All the individuals involved in the DMSP operations transfer and overall development of NPOESS are to be congratulated for a job well done," he said.

The merger, directed by President Clinton in May 1994, came after a National Performance Review identified overall savings of $1.3 billion for the Departments of Defense and Commerce by combining the two programs into one.

Some of the savings the Air Force will realize will come from the closure of the Air Force's 6th Space Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. After nearly 35 years of continuous operations, the squadron will officially close June 11.

Throughout the past 20 years, the Air Force and NOAA have used similar spacecraft and rockets, shared products derived from the data, provided complementary environmental data to the nation, and worked together on research and development for their separate programs. This substantial commonality helped the programs to actualize the current convergence.

NOAA's Suitland, Maryland Satellite Operations Control Center will become the primary operating location for the new single weather system. Beginning in October, Air Force Reserves will operate an alternate facility at Falcon AFB, Colo.

Hinson noted how the merger was a significant partnering effort between the military and civilian space organizations.

"This transition has been a tremendous success story. Since the President's decision, everyone has worked together to keep this project on time and on target," he said. The original schedule called for a transfer by June 30.

Hinson attributes the successful merger to a commitment by both parties to a cooperative relationship.

"A properly functioning partnership or team can accomplish far more than any individual efforts," he said. "This is especially true when we have trust, mutual understanding, and a true sense of selflessness from all involved parties."

Merging the operational control of the satellites is the initial step to the ultimate goal: developing a single integrated environmental satellite system. When complete, this system will meet the needs of both military and civil requirements and be known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System. (Courtesy of AFSPC News Service)

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