By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – An Air Force weather satellite that failed two years into its planned five-year lifetime cannot be recovered, leaving an aged network of spacecraft in orbit to collect key meteorological data for global military operations, officials said on Monday.
Ground control teams have been unable to command the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Flight 19, or DMSP F19, spacecraft since February, the Air Force said in statement on Monday.
Investigators traced the problem to a power failure.
“The satellite is not repairable and no further action will be taken to recover it,” the Air Force said.
It said the loss of the satellite would have no impact on the Department of Defense core weather sensing mission and that the remaining satellites in the DMSP network still can support mission requirements.
Built by Lockheed Martin Corp, DMSP F19 was the latest in a series of polar-orbiting weather satellites operated by the Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They provide information for worldwide tactical operations.
The loss of DMSP F19 leaves five operational satellites in the network, all of which are well past their design lifetimes.
The Air Force said it had tapped the 10-year old DMSP F17 to serve as one of two primary satellites after DMSP F19 failed. The other primary satellite in the network is DMSP F18, which was launched in 2009. The satellites are designed to last five years.
Congress last year scrapped the DMSP program but one spacecraft remains in storage and could be launched to replace the failed satellite.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Bill Trott)