Under a joint agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (RASA), the Stratospheric Aerosol Gas Experiment III (SAGE III) instrument
was launched in low earth orbit on December 10, 2001 aboard the Russian Meteor-3M(1) satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. SAGE III is a spectrometer that measures attenuated radiation in the 282 nm to
1550 nm wavelength range to obtain the vertical profiles of ozone, aerosols, and other chemical species that are critical in studying the trends for the global climate change phenomena. This instrument version is more advanced than any of the previous versions and has more spectral bands, elaborate data gathering and storage, and intelligent terrestrial software. There are a number of Russian scientific instruments aboard the Meteor satellite in addition to the SAGE III instrument. These instruments deal with land imaging and
biomass changes, hydro-meteorological monitoring, and helio-geophysical research. This mission was under development for over a period of six years and offered a number of unique technical and program management challenges for both Agencies. SAGE III has a long space heritage, and four earlier versions of this instrument have flown in space for nearly two decades now. In fact, SAGE II, the fourth instrument, is still flying in space on NASA's Earth Radiation Budget Satellite (ERBS), and has been providing important atmospheric data over the last 18 years. It has provided vital ozone and aerosol data in the mid latitudes and has contributed vastly in ozone depletion research. Ball Aerospace built the instrument under Langley
Research Center's (LaRC) management. This paper presents the process and approach deployed by the SAGE III and the Meteor teams in performing the initial on-orbit checkout. It further documents a number of early science results obtained by deploying low risk, carefully coordinated procedures in resolving the serious operational issues of this satellite.