Encyclopedia Astronautica
DMSP Block 4A



dmspbl5d.jpg
DMSP Block 5D
Credit: USAF
American earth weather satellite. 13 launches, 1965.01.19 (DMSP-Block-4A F1) to 1969.07.23 (DMSP-Block-4A F13). Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.

The first CORONA photos in August 1960 convinced authorities that knowledge of cloud cover over Russia was necessary and could be obtained only via satellite. Since the civilian TIROS program could not yet meet the requirement, the Director, National Reconnaissance Office (DNRO) authorized an interim program.

Launched by "Blue-Scout" boosters, the system would operate for one year until TIROS could take over. Program II began officially on 1 August 1961. Colonel Thomas Haig accepted the program director's position on three conditions: that he could use fixed-price, firm-schedule contracts; that he could select the personnel for his program office; and, that he did not have to use a civilian system engineering and technical direction (SE&TD) contractor. When TIROS delays persisted, Program II continued as Program 35. Confronted by problems of operating the meteorological satellites within the ground system designed for CORONA, Haig proposed two dedicated ground stations and a separate control center operated solely by Air Force personnel-no contractors. Ten months later the nation's first operational satellite program manned entirely by Air Force military personnel became a reality.

After the "Blue Scout" booster proved inadequate, Haig proposed refurbishing Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and adding a second stage plus parts from other boosters to create a new launch vehicle. The latter, dubbed "Burner I," solved the booster problems and simultaneously provided a convenient way to dispose of an embarrassing excess of Thors returned from Europe. No longer an "interim" effort, the military weather satellite received yet another name-Program 417. Its use was expanded to provide information on cloud cover for aircraft flights during the Cuban missile crisis, the evacuation of civilians from the Congo, and air operations in Vietnam.

Haig and his "blue-suit" crew were deeply involved in engineering and development aspects of the program. They designed essential parts for the Burner boosters, invented magnetic spin-rate control of the satellite, conceived and introduced innovations which greatly reduced the cost of ground stations, and developed simplified tracking software. The precedents established and attitudes generated in Haig's program office persisted long after the military meteorological satellite program was declassified and dubbed the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

AKA: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program; Program II; Program 417; Program 35.
Gross mass: 131 kg (288 lb).
First Launch: 1965.01.19.
Last Launch: 1969.07.23.
Number: 13 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Thor DM-18 American orbital launch vehicle. Single stage vehicle adapted from Thor IRBM with no upper stage. More...
  • Thor MG-18 American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-18A + 1 x MG-18 More...
  • Thor Burner 1 American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-18A + 1 x FW4S More...
  • Thor Burner 2 American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-18A + 1 x Star 37B More...
  • Thor Burner American orbital launch vehicle. Thor DM-18A with 'Burner' upper stage solid rocket packages used for launch of classified payloads. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • DMSP The first CORONA photos in August 1960 convinced authorities that knowledge of cloud cover over Russia was necessary and could be obtained only via satellite. Since the civilian TIROS program could not yet meet the requirement, the Director, National Reconnaissance Office authorized an 'interim' effort - the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. The satellite series continued to be updated and served into the 21st Century. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC10W Delta launch complex. Originally a Thor 75 SMS launch pad. Upgraded to a launch emplacement in 1965. More...

DMSP Block 4A Chronology


1965 January 19 - . 05:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor MG-18. LV Configuration: Thor MG-18 224.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F1 - . Payload: DAPP 10 / OPS 7040. Mass: 150 kg (330 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. Decay Date: 1979-07-13 . USAF Sat Cat: 973 . COSPAR: 1965-003A. Apogee: 833 km (517 mi). Perigee: 462 km (287 mi). Inclination: 98.8000 deg. Period: 97.60 min. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Launch date was January 18, 1965. The launch was successful and correct orbit was achieved. However, the heat shield on the second stage did not deploy correctly and the mission objectives were not fully realized. This first Burner I bird is distinguishable in photos by its black second stage.

1965 March 18 - . 04:43 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor MG-18. LV Configuration: Thor MG-18 306.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F2 - . Payload: DAPP 11 / OPS 7353. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. Decay Date: 1989-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 1273 . COSPAR: 1965-021A. Apogee: 146 km (90 mi). Perigee: 139 km (86 mi). Inclination: 99.0000 deg. Period: 87.30 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. A fully successful launch with all objectives met. The night launch time of 2100 hrs Vandenberg time with a 5 minute launch window was the same for both the first and second Burner I launches..

1965 May 20 - . 16:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 1. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 1 282.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F3 - . Payload: DAPP 12 / OPS 8386. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 1377 . COSPAR: 1965-038A. Apogee: 731 km (454 mi). Perigee: 503 km (312 mi). Inclination: 98.1000 deg. Period: 97.10 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1965 September 10 - . 04:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 1. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 1 213.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F4 - . Payload: DAPP 13 / OPS 8068. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 1580 . COSPAR: 1965-072A. Apogee: 993 km (617 mi). Perigee: 635 km (394 mi). Inclination: 98.5000 deg. Period: 101.20 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1966 January 8 - . 04:48 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 1. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 1 251. FAILURE: Second stage failed.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F5 - . Payload: DAPP 14/OPS 2394. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. Decay Date: 1966-01-06 . COSPAR: F660108A. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1966 March 31 - . 05:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 1. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 1 147.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F6 - . Payload: DAPP 15 / OPS 0340. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 2125 . COSPAR: 1966-026A. Apogee: 855 km (531 mi). Perigee: 604 km (375 mi). Inclination: 98.3000 deg. Period: 99.40 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1966 September 16 - . 04:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 167.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F7 - . Payload: DAPP 1416 (FTV-3) / OPS 6026. Mass: 125 kg (275 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 2418 . COSPAR: 1966-082A. Apogee: 857 km (532 mi). Perigee: 674 km (418 mi). Inclination: 98.3000 deg. Period: 100.20 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1967 February 8 - . 08:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 169.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F8 - . Payload: DAPP 2418 (FTV-2) / OPS 6073. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 2669 . COSPAR: 1967-010A. Apogee: 846 km (525 mi). Perigee: 771 km (479 mi). Inclination: 99.1000 deg. Period: 101.10 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program; lower than planned orbit, but still operational..

1967 August 23 - . 04:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 266.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F9 - . Payload: DAPP 3419 (FTV-4) / OPS 7202. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 2920 . COSPAR: 1967-080A. Apogee: 873 km (542 mi). Perigee: 818 km (508 mi). Inclination: 98.9000 deg. Period: 101.90 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1967 October 11 - . 07:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 268.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F10 - . Payload: DAPP 4417 (FTV-5) / OPS 1264. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 2980 . COSPAR: 1967-096A. Apogee: 796 km (494 mi). Perigee: 638 km (396 mi). Inclination: 99.2000 deg. Period: 99.10 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1968 May 23 - . 04:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 277.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F11 - . Payload: DAPP 4B F-1 (FTV-8) / OPS 7869. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 3266 . COSPAR: 1968-042A. Apogee: 883 km (548 mi). Perigee: 806 km (500 mi). Inclination: 98.9000 deg. Period: 101.80 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1968 October 23 - . 04:34 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 173.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F12 - . Payload: DAPP 6422 (FTV-7) / OPS 4078. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 3510 . COSPAR: 1968-092A. Apogee: 828 km (514 mi). Perigee: 783 km (486 mi). Inclination: 98.7000 deg. Period: 101.00 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

1969 July 23 - . 04:39 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC10W. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Burner 2. LV Configuration: Thor Burner 2 279.
  • DMSP-Block-4A F13 - . Payload: DAPP 7421 (FTV-6) / OPS 1127. Mass: 130 kg (280 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: DMSP. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: DMSP Block 4A. USAF Sat Cat: 4047 . COSPAR: 1969-062A. Apogee: 835 km (518 mi). Perigee: 768 km (477 mi). Inclination: 98.8000 deg. Period: 100.90 min. Summary: Defense Meteorological Satellite Program..

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