Extended Forecast

The Air Force is delaying the launch of its next weather satellite since the currently on-orbit units are still healthy and performing so well. Spaceflight Now reported Oct. 6 that, as a result, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft F18, originally planned for launch in November, likely will not go up in space until the second half of next year. The Lockheed Martin-built DMSP satellites were originally designed to operate on orbit for four years, but most of them have exceeded their design specifications, lasting for twice as long or more, the news service reported. There are currently four DMSP satellites on orbit, the oldest of which, F13, has been there since 1995 and the most recent of which, F17, was placed in space in November 2006.