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Detachment 1, 50th Operations Group

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)

The 50th Operations Group Detachment 1 is a component of the 50th Operations Group, 50th Space Wing, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The detachment was activated Oct. 1, 2010, and is geographically located in Suitland, Maryland.


The mission of Detachment 1 is to provide high-resolution global visible and infrared cloud data and other specialized meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical data in support of Department of Defense and civilian users worldwide.

Detachment 1 executes its assigned warfighting mission by leading operations and overseeing the command and control of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program constellation. As a geographically separated unit, it coordinates the activities for a diverse user community that includes the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center and Air Force Weather Agency. Detachment 1 serves as a single point of contact for U.S. Air Force interests in the national environmental satellite community, and oversight and reporting for the 41 NOAA civil servants who operate and help sustain the DMSP constellation.

DMSP is a Department of Defense system operated by the Department of Commerce through NOAA's Office of Satellite and Product Operations. The constellation consists of six satellites, two primary and four secondary, in early and mid-morning sun-synchronous polar orbits, which ensure global coverage at least twice every 12 hours. DMSP provides assured global environmental monitoring capabilities including cloud detection, atmospheric profiles, sea ice detection, soil trafficability assessments, and space environmental monitoring. DMSP provides two levels of data service: global, which is stored and forwarded to users worldwide, and theater, which is broadcast directly to warfighters on the battlefield.


DMSP started as a classified program in the 1960s, to support the National Reconnaissance Office's top-secret CORONA satellite program. The first successful launch of a DMSP satellite was Aug. 23, 1962. In July 1963, a DMSP command and control center was established at Air Force Global Weather Central at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The existence of the DMSP program was publicly announced in March 1973.

In September 1982, responsibility for DMSP transferred from Strategic Air Command to the newly established Air Force Space Command. On May 5, 1994, President William Clinton directed convergence of the DMSP program with the civilian weather satellite programs operated by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The plan created an Integrated Program Office comprised of the Air Force, NOAA and NASA that would develop, acquire and operate a new converged National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

In May 1998, the NPOESS program director assumed responsibility for controlling DMSP satellites, along with the NOAA polar orbiting satellites. On June 11, 1998, the Air Force Space Command's 6th Space Operations Squadron, which had previously operated DMSP satellites from their control center at Offutt Air Force Base ceased operations, and command and control for DMSP was moved to Federal Building 4, Suitland Federal Center, Suitland, Maryland. On June 11, 2007, DMSP operations were moved to the new NOAA Satellite Operations Facility, Suitland Federal Center, Suitland.

On Feb. 1, 2010, the White House under President Barrack Obama announced the closure of NPOESS and the dissolution of the IPO, due to cost overruns. On Sept. 30, 2010, the NPOESS program office closed after 15 years (1995-2010). On Oct. 1, 2010, the 50th Operations Group, Detachment 1 was activated at Suitland, Maryland, to lead DMSP operations and maintenance, which day-to-day are still conducted by 41 NOAA civilians and supported by 10 contractors.

Air Force DMSP System Program Office: http://www.losangeles.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=5321

(Current as of April 2015)