Look, No “Gyros”:

There is life after a Defense Meteorological Satellite Program reaches a ripe old age, according to Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. SMC, NOAA and satellite-maker Lockheed Martin just proved that their concept for a “gyroless” flight is possible. Using DMSP-15, launched in 1999 and beyond its design life, the DMSP team demonstrated the satellite could function without a gyro to aid attitude control during a 24-hour demonstration run by NOAA from its operations center in Suitland, Md. DMSP sats normally have two gyros operating. DMSP-15 went down to one gyro in 2002 and has operated in that mode since 2003 as a secondary DMSP asset, but it also has a radar calibration sensor considered a “vital primary asset” for DOD users. The demonstration proved that the DMSP team could maintain the satellite’s attitude—using a combination of data from its earth and sun sensors and yaw-error software—for its radar role even after the last gyro goes.