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Thermal vacuum test for meteorological satellite succeeds

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The next Defense Meteorological Systems Group satellite F-18, scheduled for launch in April, 2008, has successfully passed a significant milestone this month when it completed a 10-day system level thermal vacuum test. This is the second DMSP satellite to be processed at the Lockheed Sunnyvale facility.

Satellite level electrical performance was verified in near vacuum conditions and at predicted on-orbit temperature extremes. Hardware and software functionality was checked using "test as you fly" profiles that simulate launch and orbital operation.

No significant anomalies were observed and all test objectives were met. The satellite was brought back to the ambient environment on April 10.

"Processing will continue with acoustic testing in June," said Colonel Bradley Smith, Commander of the Defense Meteorological Systems Group. "The DMSP team showed remarkable flexibility in preparing for thermal vacuum while simultaneously supporting the successful launch and early orbit checkout of F-17 last November. We're very pleased with the performance of F-18 in environmental testing to date."

DMSP F-18 will complete environmental testing in the summer and will be shipped to a Vandenberg Air Force Base launch processing facility in October. Launch will be on an Atlas V EELV in early April 08 to replace flight F-16, a DMSP satellite launched in 2003.

The Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems including six wings and three groups responsible for GPS, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control network, space based infrared systems, intercontinental ballistic missile systems and space situational awareness capabilities. SMC manages more than $60 billion in contracts, executes annual budgets of $10 billion and employs more than 6,800 people worldwide.

In this year of the Air Force's 60th Anniversary, SMC teamed with launch partners from the Air Force, the Aerospace Corporation, and Industry to successfully complete its 50th launch.