Author Topic: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)  (Read 26899 times)

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« on: 03/03/2022 12:50 pm »
I just found some DMSP histories that I have been looking for. I have some other stuff that I will add to this thread, covering it up to the late 1970s or so.

The original DMSP started under the National Reconnaissance Office and was highly classified. It gradually moved out of that black world, although the origins were classified until the late 1990s. There are books from the 1970s and 1980s noting that although there was a Block IV version of the spacecraft, there was no information on Blocks 1-3.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2022 12:54 pm by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #1 on: 03/03/2022 12:55 pm »
This is Cargill Hall's history of the early DMSP, started under the NRO.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2022 11:18 pm by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #2 on: 03/29/2022 01:58 am »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4357/1

Dark clouds: The secret meteorological satellite program (part 1)
The RAND Corporation and cloud reconnaissance

by Dwayne Day
Monday, March 28, 2022

Amrom Katz was a short, energetic, outspoken physicist who worked for the RAND Corporation in the 1950s. RAND was located in the Los Angeles oceanside suburb of Santa Monica, California. It was a “think tank” where engineers, scientists, and policy experts studied advanced technologies and ideas for the US Air Force. At lunch, RAND’s thinkers would sip margaritas at a beachside bar and then return to their offices to think about nuclear war, earning the moniker “wizards of Armageddon.”
In this particular draft, Katz recommended that the Air Force begin a “cloud reconnaissance satellite” as soon as possible. Katz suggested that the service specifically not call it a “weather satellite,” because an accurate title would create problems.

Much of what RAND did during the 1950s concerned developing strategies for targeting, using, and protecting Air Force strategic weapons. But the think tank also had a small group of experts devoted to the subject of strategic reconnaissance and Katz and his thinking buddy Merton Davies were the lead wizards in this area. Although Katz was rarely the first person to come up with an idea, he was often the first person to study it in a comprehensive manner and recommend what the Air Force should do. Sometimes, but less often than Katz liked, they took his advice. In March 1959, Katz wrote an internal RAND “draft” document about weather satellites.

RAND drafts were actually discussion papers, not intended for external release, and unlike most bureaucratic documents, Katz’s drafts were often filled with wry, slightly sarcastic remarks about the military bureaucracy. RAND was far from the Washington power corridors, which was disadvantageous in some ways. But as Katz once wrote, from their detached perch above the bureaucratic fray, “sometimes the view is tremendous.”

In this particular draft, Katz recommended that the Air Force begin a “cloud reconnaissance satellite” as soon as possible. Katz suggested that the service specifically not call it a “weather satellite,” because an accurate title would create problems. “If we claim this is a weather or meteorological satellite,” he wrote, “various political and jurisdictional hackles at NASA and DoD and U.S. Weather Bureau levels will rise to the occasion. This we really don’t need. We feel that sleeping hackles should be left lying.”[1]

Katz also outlined the reasons why an Air Force “cloud reconnaissance satellite” would be useful for the Air Force. But what he did not know was that not only were the bureaucratic squabbles more complex than he imagined, but in spring 1959 the Air Force was strangely indifferent to the idea of a military meteorological satellite. It would take several years for this attitude to change in the Air Force, but Katz's arguments were prescient. Amrom Katz was being reminded of something he knew only too well: it was lonely being ahead of your time.

Online sdsds

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7085
  • “With peace and hope for all mankind.”
  • Seattle
  • Liked: 1941
  • Likes Given: 1906
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #3 on: 03/29/2022 02:23 am »
I skimmed the Cargill Hall history. It mentions the importance of determining cloud cover to reduce the percentage of CORONA images that had little value. Weren't there similar concerns about Flying Tiger (or similar) piloted aircraft undertaking dangerous missions overflying mainland China, only to return home with images of clouds rather than ground installations?
— 𝐬𝐝𝐒𝐝𝐬 —

Offline LittleBird

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1079
  • UK
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 512
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #4 on: 03/29/2022 10:02 am »
This is Cargill Hall's history of the early DMSP, started under the NRO.

And  here's colour version that  was eventually published by NRO (attached) as one of the CSNR legacy history series, see also https://www.nro.gov/History-and-Studies/Center-for-the-Study-of-National-Reconnaissance/Organizational-and-Program-Histories/

Was interested to see Vernor Suomi (of SEOS among other things) involved with AF metsats right from the start, page 8.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #5 on: 03/29/2022 01:07 pm »
I skimmed the Cargill Hall history. It mentions the importance of determining cloud cover to reduce the percentage of CORONA images that had little value. Weren't there similar concerns about Flying Tiger (or similar) piloted aircraft undertaking dangerous missions overflying mainland China, only to return home with images of clouds rather than ground installations?

From the article:

"The think tank addressed many other subjects as well and, in December 1956, RAND produced another report that attempted to quantify how reconnaissance in general was affected by different weather conditions. The report had been prompted in part by the first reconnaissance robots, an aerial balloon project known as “Genetrix.” Genetrix involved releasing hundreds of balloons carrying cameras in Europe. Prevailing winds at high altitudes carried the balloons over the Soviet Union and upon reaching the Pacific Ocean they were commanded to drop their camera payloads for retrieval. Most of the balloons never made it, but for the few that did, many of their photographs were degraded by clouds."

So the interest in "cloud reconnaissance" was prompted in part by how clouds affected balloon photographic reconnaissance missions. I am sure that this issue came up regarding U-2 flights, as you mention. Mission planners would want reasonable assurance that there were no clouds over the targets before they launched their missions.

As the article also notes, different mission planners cared about different things. Bombing missions cared more about winds (that could affect bombing accuracy) than clouds.

Looking back at all of this, it was really a long-term learning process. The most clearly defined requirement for the NRO was cloud photography so they could plan their own reconnaissance missions. The USAF had more vaguely-defined requirements. And at least initially, USAF used Tiros data (the first Tiros satellites were launched in April and November 1960). More of this will be discussed in part 2 and 3. Once the satellites were regularly flying, more users could access the data and learn what they could do with the data. And that refined their requirements.

In 1959-1960, USAF started to get interested in a military weather satellite for overall weather prediction. USAF did not get approval for their own satellite. Instead, the plan was for a Tiros follow-on satellite that would incorporate military requirements. As that got delayed, the NRO came in and created their small "interim" program that was supposed to operate until the follow-on became available. When the follow-on (eventually named Nimbus) got further delayed, the NRO satellite--DMSP--became permanent and was transferred from NRO to USAF.

There are still a lot of questions about how all of this worked (and I won't be answering all of them in these articles). For instance, the early DMSP data was highly classified, but it was processed by Strategic Air Command. So how did SAC use that data for its own needs without revealing the source? I assume that they had a way of incorporating it into their own global weather forecasts even though it was coming from NRO satellites. Because they also had Tiros data, at least at one level people knew that satellites were providing weather data, although few knew that there were also classified satellites providing some of the weather data. So that may have made things a bit easier. Put another way, if a pilot asked "Where did this weather data come from?" the answer could be "space," and everybody would simply assume that meant Tiros.

Also, in the 1950s, the people who thought about weather satellites figured that the only instrument they would have would be a television camera. By the 1960s, there were other instruments available to provide additional data. So the satellites became more useful.

Offline LittleBird

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1079
  • UK
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 512
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #6 on: 03/29/2022 02:29 pm »

There are still a lot of questions about how all of this worked (and I won't be answering all of them in these articles). For instance, the early DMSP data was highly classified, but it was processed by Strategic Air Command. So how did SAC use that data for its own needs without revealing the source? I assume that they had a way of incorporating it into their own global weather forecasts even though it was coming from NRO satellites. Because they also had Tiros data, at least at one level people knew that satellites were providing weather data, although few knew that there were also classified satellites providing some of the weather data. So that may have made things a bit easier. Put another way, if a pilot asked "Where did this weather data come from?" the answer could be "space," and everybody would simply assume that meant Tiros.

 

Did it work same way as an NRO writer describes here https://www.nro.gov/Media/News/News-Display/Article/1906117/the-rescue-of-apollo-11/

[Edit: Sounds like an ingenious cover story involving the Vietnam War and the Russians ... the former makes sense at least:

"Before long, designers, technicians, and engineers developed a series of very successful defense meteorological “birds” and ground stations, like the one at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, where Brandli first worked with the DMSP Block 4 satellite in 1966.

Brandli was not cleared for Corona while he served in Vietnam, so he was told a cover story. “I was always under the impression that we launched those weather satellites and systems for the war… People would ask, ‘why is it so classified?’ They said [it was] because we signed an agreement with the Russians that we would share meteorological information,” he explained.

It wasn’t until after the weather expert left Vietnam to assume new duties in support of the Corona program that he learned of DMSP’s primary mission: “When I went to Hawaii in ‘67, it all came together,” Brandli recalled. “I say, Holy Smokes, that’s what this weather satellite is for—to support Corona! We wanted the best weather information so we could turn the cameras on over the Soviet Union and China and Cuba.”

At Hickam, Brandli’s weather reports and forecasts ensured that film return capsules deorbited from CORONA satellites returned to clear skies over the Pacific Ocean. The film return capsules, known as “buckets,” descended by parachute and were captured in mid-air by specially outfitted cargo aircraft. Few people were aware of what the Air Force meteorologist really did. “It was so top secret that I wasn’t allowed to show anybody… In the 6594th Test Group that ran the C-130s that caught the film canister, there was only one guy who knew… The Vice Commander wasn’t even briefed. It was wicked hush-hush,” Brandli recalled."]
« Last Edit: 03/29/2022 09:06 pm by LittleBird »

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #7 on: 03/29/2022 06:32 pm »
This is Cargill Hall's history of the early DMSP, started under the NRO.

And  here's colour version that  was eventually published by NRO (attached) as one of the CSNR legacy history series, see also https://www.nro.gov/History-and-Studies/Center-for-the-Study-of-National-Reconnaissance/Organizational-and-Program-Histories/

Was interested to see Vernor Suomi (of SEOS among other things) involved with AF metsats right from the start, page 8.

Interesting that the official history does not include artwork of the Block 1-3 satellites. Well, by "interesting" I mean that they obviously forgot to include it.

I had an amusing incident about that image back in the early 2000s. I submitted a FOIA request to LA AFB for an image of the Block 1 DMSP and they sent it to me. I published an article with it. A month or so after the article appeared I got a phone call from NRO asking where I got that image. I told them. I cannot remember if I scanned it for them.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #8 on: 03/31/2022 03:39 pm »
Part 2 of my article picks up the story in the late 1950s. RCA was one of the losing bidders for the Air Force reconnaissance satellite program. They proposed a TV-based satellite. After losing that, they offered their satellite to the Army. It was initially approved as a reconnaissance satellite, but then changed over to a "cloud reconnaissance" or weather satellite. The Army project was then transferred to NASA and became the Tiros weather satellite.

Tiros had a camera that stuck out of the bottom of the rotating satellite. (I think they soon added a second TV camera.) There were a couple of problems. First, there was no way to determine direction, which made it really hard to figure out what the photos were showing. Were the clouds moving west to east or north to south? I don't know how they solved that problem.

The second problem was that the satellite wobbled, so some images showed more space and some showed more earth. They determined that this was caused by the Earth's magnetic field. You can see an image here of a test satellite in a magnetic cage to determine what was happening.


Offline LittleBird

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1079
  • UK
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 512
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #9 on: 03/31/2022 05:19 pm »

The second problem was that the satellite wobbled, so some images showed more space and some showed more earth. They determined that this was caused by the Earth's magnetic field. You can see an image here of a test satellite in a magnetic cage to determine what was happening.

It's interesting, looking at the conference paper you uploaded, that this suggested the magnetorquer idea for stabilisation. I wonder if this was its first appearance ?

Offline LittleBird

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1079
  • UK
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 512
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #10 on: 03/31/2022 05:28 pm »

There are still a lot of questions about how all of this worked (and I won't be answering all of them in these articles). For instance, the early DMSP data was highly classified, but it was processed by Strategic Air Command. So how did SAC use that data for its own needs without revealing the source? I assume that they had a way of incorporating it into their own global weather forecasts even though it was coming from NRO satellites. Because they also had Tiros data, at least at one level people knew that satellites were providing weather data, although few knew that there were also classified satellites providing some of the weather data. So that may have made things a bit easier. Put another way, if a pilot asked "Where did this weather data come from?" the answer could be "space," and everybody would simply assume that meant Tiros.


One interesting thing in the colour version of Hall history is a footnote saying that because of the widespread use in Vietnam some details of the metsats leaked (or were tacitly acknowledged). He cites this Jan 27th 1969 Aviation Week item (page 13) which might have been the first public identification of 417 as a military metsat ?

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #11 on: 03/31/2022 09:44 pm »
One interesting thing in the colour version of Hall history is a footnote saying that because of the widespread use in Vietnam some details of the metsats leaked (or were tacitly acknowledged). He cites this Jan 27th 1969 Aviation Week item (page 13) which might have been the first public identification of 417 as a military metsat ?

That's a neat little find. There are several issues it raises.

First, it's another demonstration of how good Aviation Week used to be at uncovering this stuff. There are a lot of little "Industry Observer" blurbs in old issues of Aviation Week that uncovered classified programs. Off the top of my head, there was the one that exposed the QUILL radar satellite in 1964. And then there was that amazing one from the early 1980s that referred to Hans Mark's speech and laid out a lot of details about the US photo-reconnaissance satellite program, including HEXAGON, GAMBIT, KENNEN, and even DAMON. It did not mention any of those code names, but it was a remarkably accurate overview of the imagery part of the National Reconnaissance Program. (I'm convinced that Hans Mark sat down for an interview and told them all that stuff.)

It also is relevant to the issue of how and why the NRO and other government agencies approached secrecy. The NRO's attitude was to pretty much classify everything that they could. Their justification for that approach was that small bits of information--such as the fact that USAF had a secret weather satellite program--could be used to pry out more information--such as the fact that the program was created to support reconnaissance satellites.

And my guess is that that is what happened here. It probably was an open secret that military weather satellite photos were being used in Vietnam. Pilots were looking at the photos, and they probably got passed around during briefings. So some civilian or reporter heard about that. Then that information was used by that or another reporter to contact a source in Washington and say "Hey, this satellite exists. Why was it built?" And their source said "Oh, we built that to support reconnaissance missions." I don't know that this is what happened, but it seems a likely possibility.

Just to close the circle: this approach to secrecy has its downsides too. It costs a lot of money, and it is inefficient. And it also tends to erode confidence in the overall security program. If you classify everything, people grow somewhat contemptuous of the process. If you can clearly define what is and is not classified and why, that gives people better rules to follow. But that's an argument that has been used for decades and it never wins. The US military over-classifies a lot of stuff, and nobody ever does anything about it.

Offline Targeteer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6022
  • near hangar 18
  • Liked: 3156
  • Likes Given: 1087
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #12 on: 04/01/2022 01:20 am »
Aviation Leak also noted that stealth helicopters were being tested at Area 51 long before the Bin Laden raid, stated the air traffic controllers were "amused" by descriptions of SR-71's stealth characteristics because they repeatedly saw the huge radar returns caused by it's plasma field, reported the death of the Tactical Air Command Vice Commander or Ops Officer (DO) who tried to eject from a Mig above Mach 1 at Nellis.  Craig Covault ID'ing the first Lacrosse radar satellite as the 2nd post Challenger payload was arguably the most significant...
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline LittleBird

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1079
  • UK
  • Liked: 301
  • Likes Given: 512
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #13 on: 04/01/2022 09:04 am »
One interesting thing in the colour version of Hall history is a footnote saying that because of the widespread use in Vietnam some details of the metsats leaked (or were tacitly acknowledged). He cites this Jan 27th 1969 Aviation Week item (page 13) which might have been the first public identification of 417 as a military metsat ?

That's a neat little find. There are several issues it raises.

First, it's another demonstration of how good Aviation Week used to be at uncovering this stuff. There are a lot of little "Industry Observer" blurbs in old issues of Aviation Week that uncovered classified programs. Off the top of my head, there was the one that exposed the QUILL radar satellite in 1964.
Another was the one that described the key points of JUMPSEAT including its code number, 711, a year or so before launch.

Quote

And then there was that amazing one from the early 1980s that referred to Hans Mark's speech and laid out a lot of details about the US photo-reconnaissance satellite program, including HEXAGON, GAMBIT, KENNEN, and even DAMON. It did not mention any of those code names, but it was a remarkably accurate overview of the imagery part of the National Reconnaissance Program. (I'm convinced that Hans Mark sat down for an interview and told them all that stuff.)
Something like 3 or 4 pages, that one.

Quote
It also is relevant to the issue of how and why the NRO and other government agencies approached secrecy. The NRO's attitude was to pretty much classify everything that they could. Their justification for that approach was that small bits of information--such as the fact that USAF had a secret weather satellite program--could be used to pry out more information--such as the fact that the program was created to support reconnaissance satellites.

And my guess is that that is what happened here. It probably was an open secret that military weather satellite photos were being used in Vietnam. Pilots were looking at the photos, and they probably got passed around during briefings. So some civilian or reporter heard about that. Then that information was used by that or another reporter to contact a source in Washington and say "Hey, this satellite exists. Why was it built?" And their source said "Oh, we built that to support reconnaissance missions." I don't know that this is what happened, but it seems a likely possibility.


Hall himself notes that the usage in Vietnam was one reason for this increased visibility (below), what I  don't know is if the move from NRO to SAMSO in about 1965 was in part motivated by the need to use it in Vietnam.

I was by the way intrigued to see the distinction between the roles of SAFSP/Program A and SAMSO made clear in the same Aviation Week story, not sure if that was also a first, journalistically speaking ? [... and wording that with hindsight clearly alludes to fact that 417 originated with NRO and was transferred to SAMSO].
« Last Edit: 04/01/2022 09:07 am by LittleBird »

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #14 on: 04/05/2022 01:07 pm »
https://thespacereview.com/article/4362/1

Dark clouds: The secret meteorological satellite program (part 2)
The Radio Corporation of America and the Army’s reconnaissance satellite

by Dwayne Day
Monday, April 4, 2022

In late 1955, following the RAND Corporation’s Feed Back report, the US Air Force conducted a competition to select a contractor to build a television-based reconnaissance satellite. Three companies submitted proposals: Lockheed Aircraft, the Radio Corporation of America, and the Glenn L. Martin Company. Air Force officials considered the Martin proposal to be poor. The Air Force officers evaluating the other two proposals considered both of them to be impressive. Indeed, some felt that technically, the RCA proposal was the better of the two. But according to one participant, RCA’s presentation of its proposal was a disaster: the person who delivered it was unprepared and nobody from RCA’s senior management was there to state that the company valued such a relatively small contract.

“I remember sitting in a meeting with von Braun in the old Franklin Hotel in Philly when the reconnaissance satellite problem came up,” Staton wrote, “And von Braun said, ‘let’s look at clouds!’”

In contrast, Lockheed impressed everyone. The company sent its top executives, who personally expressed their commitment to making the satellite work. They also proposed using film instead of a television camera in their satellite. The film would be developed onboard the spacecraft and then scanned, and the images transmitted to Earth. Lockheed got the overall contract. But although RCA executives were unhappy about losing, they certainly did not give up. They thought they had a good satellite proposal and if the US Air Force was unwilling to fund it, RCA would find someone else who would. As Amrom Katz joked at the time, their work “left RCA with a bag full of studies to exploit elsewhere.”

RCA submitted a modified version of their satellite proposal to the Weather Bureau in the Department of Commerce, arguing that essentially the same vehicle RCA had proposed for reconnaissance could be used to photograph clouds. But the Weather Bureau was not interested. In 1957 RCA took its reconnaissance satellite proposal to the Army’s Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama, which was developing long-range missiles. The rocket team’s leader, Wernher von Braun, liked the satellite idea and gave RCA a contract to further study the subject. He wanted RCA to evaluate a small reconnaissance satellite for the Jupiter rocket. Von Braun soon gave the company a second contract to design a satellite structure, power supply, stabilization system, environmental control, orbital dynamics, and electronic instrumentation, as well as the necessary ground station equipment.

Maurice Staton, who was then RCA Sales Manager, remembered how he soon became involved in the program. “A group at RCA David Sarnoff Lab was already at work on a reconsat for von Braun,” he wrote more than 40 years later.[2] “When Astro was formed, seven of us from Camden Industrial Products were sent up to the Princeton Labs to start the Astro Electronics Division. We were quartered in a small lab in a secure area just east of the David Sarnoff Laboratory in Hightstown, near Princeton, New Jersey.”

But in late 1957 or early 1958, the Army was told by the Department of Defense not to develop a reconnaissance satellite because it was already an Air Force job. Staton and several of his colleagues met with von Braun in Philadelphia. “I remember sitting in a meeting with von Braun in the old Franklin Hotel in Philly when the reconnaissance satellite problem came up,” Staton wrote, “And von Braun said, ‘let’s look at clouds!’”

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #15 on: 04/05/2022 05:30 pm »

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #16 on: 04/06/2022 09:21 pm »
I found my print copy of this photo. There are some poor quality versions on the internet. I will re-scan this at high resolution and post it.

Tiros was spin-stabilized, with the axis of spin pointed down at the Earth. The two cameras (one narrow angle, the other wide angle) pointed out the bottom of the spacecraft at the Earth. There were a couple of problems that cropped up early on. The first was that there was no way to tell which way was north. So was that cloud bank moving west to east or south to north?

The second problem was that the satellite wobbled. That meant that sometimes the cameras tilted up a bit. Now when the designers first selected that spin orientation, they did so believing that it was best for dealing with the Earth's magnetic field. Somehow they miscalculated, because the Earth's magnetic field was causing the wobble. They had to figure out what was going on, and so they built this magnetic cage and stuck a satellite in it.

Space is weird, huh?

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #17 on: 04/07/2022 02:11 pm »
Part 3 of my series is finished. However, I'm going to wait a week or two before running it in TSR. I've got a different article I want to run in the meantime.

I'm currently writing part 4 (of 4), which will take the story up to around 1981. One of my sources is Cargill Hall's DMSP history that was published in 2001. That history was produced a decade before the GAMBIT and HEXAGON declassification. In there he mentions that a new system--obviously HEXAGON--took advantage of the weather data by 1972. Here's what I'm trying to figure out: what changed with how HEXAGON used the weather/cloud data? How could HEXAGON take better advantage of cloud cover data?

"This effort assumed increased importance in 1972 when operation of a new imaging satellite began. The early morning “scout” military weather satellite furnished weather conditions over the Soviet Union at first light. These data, used in the cloud analysis and forecast system, provided cloud-cover estimates that were transmitted from Air Force Global Weather Central to the Satellite Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon and used as a short-term forecast to program satellite camera operations in the reconnaissance satellites that trailed the weather scout. The late morning “assessment” weather satellite told how accurate the cloud forecast had been, determined whether target requirements had been satisfied, and also contributed data to the weather model. Finally, personnel in the Defense Mapping Agency scanned the film returned by reconnaissance satellites and reported actual cloud cover to Air Force Global Weather Central afterward, further contributing to the weather model data base."


I'm going to look in The HEXAGON Story history, but if anybody has seen anything about this, please let me know.
« Last Edit: 04/07/2022 03:46 pm by Blackstar »

Offline hoku

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 766
  • Liked: 656
  • Likes Given: 329
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #18 on: 04/07/2022 07:33 pm »
<snip>
In there he mentions that a new system--obviously HEXAGON--took advantage of the weather data by 1972. Here's what I'm trying to figure out: what changed with how HEXAGON used the weather/cloud data? How could HEXAGON take better advantage of cloud cover data?

"This effort assumed increased importance in 1972 when operation of a new imaging satellite began. The early morning “scout” military weather satellite furnished weather conditions over the Soviet Union at first light. These data, used in the cloud analysis and forecast system, provided cloud-cover estimates that were transmitted from Air Force Global Weather Central to the Satellite Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon and used as a short-term forecast to program satellite camera operations in the reconnaissance satellites that trailed the weather scout. The late morning “assessment” weather satellite told how accurate the cloud forecast had been, determined whether target requirements had been satisfied, and also contributed data to the weather model. Finally, personnel in the Defense Mapping Agency scanned the film returned by reconnaissance satellites and reported actual cloud cover to Air Force Global Weather Central afterward, further contributing to the weather model data base."


I'm going to look in The HEXAGON Story history, but if anybody has seen anything about this, please let me know.
We had a discussion a year ago, with edzieba mentioning "a weather satellite flying 'ahead' of Hexagon to determine cloud cover".

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26820.msg2264473#msg2264473

One question is how much lead time they required to re-program shutter opening (or staying closed) opportunities. Somewhere I read that they (the meteorologists?) had to produce punching cards, which were then used to update the shutter opening windows "just in time" (i.e. during the final pass of HEXAGON over a US ground station just ahead of its photographic pass over the area of interest).

Do we know for how long DMSP Block 5B, 5C, and 5D (up to DMSP 5D-2/F7) satellites stayed operational?

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15184
  • Liked: 7610
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Defense Meteorological Support Program (DMSP)
« Reply #19 on: 04/07/2022 08:10 pm »
One question is how much lead time they required to re-program shutter opening (or staying closed) opportunities. Somewhere I read that they (the meteorologists?) had to produce punching cards, which were then used to update the shutter opening windows "just in time" (i.e. during the final pass of HEXAGON over a US ground station just ahead of its photographic pass over the area of interest).

Hmmm... I find it hard to believe that it was that clunky. The process that was developed for CORONA by 1960/61 was that they had the ability to send a command up to CORONA to tell it to skip a photographic pass. Of course, that's kinda overkill, because maybe clouds only covered part of an area, and skipping an entire pass would miss viewable area. But it seems to me that there should have been an ability to send up a command to HEXAGON without requiring a lot of prep. But I'm no expert in 1970s computer capabilities.

Tags:
 

Advertisement NovaTech
Advertisement Northrop Grumman
Advertisement
Advertisement Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island
Advertisement Brady Kenniston
Advertisement NextSpaceflight
Advertisement Nathan Barker Photography
0