SMS mast


Objectives: Sense meteorological conditions from a fixed location above the Earth; provide this data to operational forecasters and private interests on the ground. The satellite was designed to compliment SMS-1 and cover the Western U.S. and Pacific basin.

Description: The spacecraft was a cylinder 75 inches in diameter, 103 inches high and weighed 630 pounds. The sides of the cylinder were covered by 15,000 solar cells which, along with nicad batteries, provided the power for the craft. A single triangular magnetometer unit was located on the top of the craft which extended 33". The spacecraft was spin stabilized and rotated at 100 revolutions per minute.

The principle instrument on board was the Visible Infrared Spin Scan Radiometer (VISSR) which provided day and night imagery of cloud conditions over the full-disk. The satellite had the capability to monitor cataclysmic weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons continuously, relay data from over 10,000 surface locations into a central processing center for incorporation into weather prediction models, and to perform facsimile transmission of processed images and weather maps to WEFAX field stations. In addition, a Space Environment Monitor (SEM) and Data Collection System (DCS) similar to those on the NOAA polar orbiters were installed.

SMS-B satellite SMS-2 was placed in a geostationary orbit directly over the equator at 135W (over the east-central Pacific).

Participants: NASA, Hughes, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Aerospace Corporation, Bell Telephone

SMS2 SMS-2 being prepared for launch: it viewed the western US and Hawaii, while its sister spacecraft, SMS-1, viewed the Eastern US.

Launch Date
February 6, 1975

Operational Period
Deactivated by NASA on August 5, 1982

Launch Vehicle

Launch Site
Cape Canaveral, FL

Weather Satellite

Photo: SMS-B erected atop its Delta booster.

SMS missions

1968 - 1977

Earth Science Enterprise


Responsible NASA Official: Sharron Sample
Curator: SAIC Information Services
Date: 5/12/99