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DWSS 1, 2


The DWSS (Defense Weather Satellite System) is the military follow-up program to the failed NPOESS meteorological satellite program. It will replace the DMSP-5D3 series. The civilian counterpart is the JPSS (Joint Polar Satellite System) program, which will share a joint ground system.

DWSS retains the Northrop Grumman bus developed for NPOES, as well as a part of the NPOES instrument suite. The DWSS space segment utilizes the core design, functionality and reliability of the spacecraft developed for the National Polar orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), part of Northrop Grumman’s Eagle spacecraft product line. The satellite’s size, power, and subsystems have been tailored to efficiently match DWSS mission requirements. The spacecraft provides the benefits of reliability, longevity and survivability with launch readiness in 2018.

The DWSS satellite payloads include the following sensors:

  • Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)
    Provides the detailed imagery and environmental information needed for tactical battlefield decision-making. Collects high resolution visible and infrared images and radiometric data of cloud and aerosol properties, land surface types and temperatures, albedo, vegetation index, and ocean color and surface temperatures.
  • Space Environment Monitor (SEM)
    Provides data on “space weather” – charged particles and radiation that may have harmful effects on communications, navigation, and satellite and aircraft operation.
  • Microwave Sensor
    Measures soil moisture, atmospheric temperatures, moisture profiles, precipitation, and sea surface winds. These measurements can be combined with VIIRS imagery data to allow ground, naval and air forces to plan maneuvers more safely and effectively.

High-caliber data from the DWSS instruments will be rapidly delivered via ground receptors to four weather data centrals – Fleet Numerical Meteorological and Oceanography Center (FNMOC), Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), Naval Oceanographic Office (NAV0), and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) – for processing and analysis into key products. Using ground-based fiber optic networks, a common ground system will deliver into the hands of military planners 10 times more processed data up to five times faster than legacy systems – in 30 minutes or less.

DWSS will broadcast directly from the satellite to field users on land and at sea for real-time situational awareness. Improvements in weather information provided by DWSS will enhance the warfighter’s knowledge and forecast of the battlefield environment for effect.

The Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and FY12 Consolidated Appropriations Act effectively cancelled DWSS, and now the Air Force has instructed prime contractor Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems to halt work on the program.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Meteorology
Operator: DoD
Contractors: Northrop Grumman Space Technology
Configuration: T330 (AB-1200)
Propulsion: ?
Power: Deployable solar array, batteries
Lifetime: 7 years
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
DWSS 1 - 2018 Va EELV cancelled
DWSS 2 - Va EELV cancelled

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