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DMSP (72-018A), also known as DMSP 5528, was one of a series of meteorological satellites developed and operated by the Air Force under the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. This program, previously known as Data Acquisition and Processing Program (DAPP), was classified until March 1973. The objective of this program was to provide global visual and infrared (IR) cloudcover data and specialized environmental data to support Department of Defense requirements. Operationally, the program consisted of two satellites in 830 km sun-synchronous polar orbits, with the ascending node of one satellite near the sunrise terminator and the other near local noon. The satellite, shaped like the frustum of a polyhedron, consisted of four subassemblies -- (1) a solar array hat, (2) a base-plate assembly, (3) a Sensor AVE (Aerospace Vehicle Electronics) Package (SAP), and (4) a data processing system. The primary sensor (SAP) was a three channel scanning radiometer which was mounted on the base-plate assembly. Spacecraft stabilization was controlled by a combination flywheel and magnetic control coil system so that the sensors were maintained in the desired earth-looking mode. The data processing system included three tape recorders capable of storing a total of 440 min of data, which allowed full global coverage twice daily. Either recorded or real-time data were transmitted to ground receiving sites via an s-band transmitter. Recorded data were read out to tracking sites located at Fairchild AFB, WA, and Loring AFB, ME, and relayed to Air Force Global Weather Central, Offutt AFB, NE. Real-time data were read out at mobile tactical sites located around the world. The spacecraft was reactivated for a brief period beginning Oct 12, 1975 to study spacecraft deterioration which had occurred during the past 1.5 years.

Alternate Names

  • 05903
  • DMSP 5528
  • DMSP5B-F2

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1972-03-24
Launch Vehicle: Thor
Launch Site: Vandenberg AFB, United States
Mass: 195 kg

Funding Agency

  • Department of Defense-Department of the Air Force (United States)


  • Space Physics
  • Earth Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. Dieter K. Bilitza



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Project ManagerUS Air Force Space Division
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