DMSP’s Silent Spatter in Space

A military weather satellite cracked up Feb. 3 after the power system overheated causing it to spin out of control, Air Force Space Command officials told Air Force Magazine in a statement released March 3. The Joint Space Operations Center “identified a debris field” indicating Defense Meteorological Satellite Program flight 13 disintegrated into 43 bits of debris. “While the initial response is complete, JSpOC personnel will continue to assess this event to learn more about what happened and what it will mean for users within this orbit,” Col. John Giles, JSpOC Director, said in the statement. DMSP 13 was the oldest operational satellite in the constellation, and was relegated to back-up status in 2006. Operators took action to “render the vehicle safe” soon after the temperature spike, and the debris does not appear to pose a collision risk to other space assets, according to the statement. JSpOC is continuing to monitor and warn of any potential risks, said AFSPC officials. The most recent DMSP satellite, DMSP 19, launched last April.