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SOPS Assumes DMSP Satellite Control Authority

EO image of NOAA facilities in Suitland.
by 1st Lt. Jeremy Cotton
6th Space Operations Squadron
Schriever AFB CO (SPX) Feb 08, 2007
The 6th Space Operations Squadron here assumed satellite control authority of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Jan. 29 as National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration officials deployed to Schriever from their facilities in Suitland, Md. NOAA's deployment to Schriever is the result of a move from an older, outdated facility to a new $61-million NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland.

The move required engineers, schedulers and operators from Maryland to deploy to Schriever to continue command and control functions while 6th SOPS augmented the NOAA crews. NOAA is the primary command-and-control authority for DMSP.

In its first week, the move in Suitland has gone well and is ahead of schedule. NOAA officials powered on the ground system equipment and will begin testing soon. If all goes well, satellite operations will be transferred back to Suitland, Md. by the end of next week.

"The deployment shows how two completely separate departments of the U.S. government -- the Department of Commerce and Department of Defense -- can integrate their functions and become one in an effort to provide continued, critical meteorological information to warfighters and civilians worldwide," said Lt. Col. Byron Hays, 6th SOPS commander.

Both 6th SOPS and NOAA have prepared for this move for nearly two years. Problems with electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems caused delays in the move to the new building. Once engineers resolved those problems, planners at NOAA and 6th SOPS set preparations for the move in motion.

Maj. Cal Peters, 6th SOPS chief of operations, worked with Schriever and NOAA officials to prepare the squadron for NOAA's deployment.

"Crosstalk in space ops is essential in many respects, but getting to sit side-by-side with our Department of Commerce counterparts has proven to be invaluable," Major Peters said. "We hope to give as much as we glean from them on how to streamline procedures, have big-picture situational awareness as operators, and most of all, ensure we bring down the data."

The NSOF building will host the Polar-orbiting and Geostationary operational environmental satellites and DMSP operations until the follow-on programs are launched and declared operational. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, a combination of DMSP and the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites, is expected to launch in 2012.

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Beijing (AFP) Feb 6, 2007
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