NOAA-7 (or NOAA-C, 1981–1985) was launched on 23 June 1981. It had an orbital time of 102 minutes at an inclination of 98.9, a perigee of 845 kilometres (456 nmi) and an apogee of 863 kilometres (466 nmi). NOAA-7 was an operational meteorological satellite for use in the National Operational Environmental Satellite System (NOESS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was used to support the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP) during 1978-1984. The satellite design provided an economical and stable sun synchronous platform for advanced operational instruments to measure the Earth's atmosphere, its surface and cloud cover, and the near space environment.
The primary sensors included an Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometr (AVHRR) and a TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS). There were a number of secondary experiments on-board NOAA-7. These include a Space Environment Monitor (SEM) and a Data Collection and Platform Location System (DCPLS). The United States Air Force also provided a contamination monitor to assess contamination sources, levels and effects for consideration on future spacecraft. NOAA-7 was based upon the Block 5D spacecraft bus developed for the U.S. Air Force. The satellite was capable of maintaining an earth-pointing accuracy of better than plus or minus 0.1 degree with a motion rate of less than 0.035 deg/second.