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Military Weather Satellite Launched After 15-Year Hold

Image: Atlas 5 launch
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket carries a satellite for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program into space fromVandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday. Gene Blevins / Reuters

A U.S. military weather satellite, refurbished after more than a decade in storage, blasted off aboard an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday.

The rocket put the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft into a 530-mile-high orbit passing over Earth's poles. The $518 million satellite, known as DMSP-19 and built by Lockheed Martin, joins six other operational DMSP satellites already in orbit.

The U.S. Air Force was prepared to launch DMSP-19 about 15 years ago — but the satellites in orbit were lasting much longer than expected, so it went into storage instead.

— Reuters