A small Air Force station near Riverside State Park that helped military officials plan operations from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf War will be closed.
The federal government is consolidating its weather satellite systems. The Satellite Operations Center, which is connected with Fairchild Air Force Base, will close by September 1997.
“It’s not an overnight thing,” said Sgt. Sue Conard. The base spokeswoman said a timetable will be announced later.
The center, sometimes referred to as Deep Creek for the small stream that runs nearby, employs 69 people involved in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. It serves as a command, control and communications center for military weather satellites.
The Clinton administration has decided to combine weather satellite programs operated by the Defense Department and the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But defense satellites perform a different function than the weather satellites that provide information for the nightly news.
From the small compound about 10 miles northeast of Fairchild, Air Force officials collect data from special satellites that circle the globe. That information is transferred to other locations for analysis and planning. During wartime, it can wind up in the hands of commanders planning an infantry attack or a bombing run.
Work currently conducted at the satellite center will be moved to facilities in Maryland, Colorado and California.
The satellite center is located at the former home of a missile defense system, one of several stations that ringed the base.
The Deep Creek station was built in the mid-1950s to house Nike anti-aircraft missiles. The weather satellite station opened in 1963, and remained at Deep Creek after the Nike unit was disbanded in 1966.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Fairchild Satellite Operations Center area