July 6, 2015 – NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)–R spacecraft has entered the environmental testing phase at Lockheed Martin Corporation in Littleton, Colorado. Environmental testing subjects the satellite to conditions that mimic the space environment.
The satellite completed final integration at Lockheed Martin at the end of May. GOES-R was lifted in preparation for its move from the clean room.
GOES-R was then transported to a 29-foot-by-65-foot vacuum chamber at the Lockheed Martin facility.
GOES-R was lowered into the vacuum chamber, where it will remain for the next two months.
During the thermal vacuum test, the satellite is exposed to the extreme hot and cold temperatures it will experience in space as it orbits the Earth with temperatures ranging from minus 15 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius. The satellite will also undergo vibration testing to simulate the experience of launching into space aboard a rocket, and electromagnetic testing to ensure it is properly protected from electromagnetic phenomena in space, like solar flares.
The GOES-R satellite is scheduled to be launched in March 2016 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Once launched, the satellite will be known as GOES-16 and will immediately be placed in a test location at 89.5 degrees West longitude for an extended checkout period. During post-launch testing and extended validation, the GOES-R satellite will be operational, providing observations during the 2016 hurricane season. At the conclusion of the checkout, the satellite will be placed into either the East or West location depending on the health and performance of the other GOES satellites in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s constellation.
GOES-R represents a significant improvement over current GOES satellite observations and will provide higher-resolution images of weather patterns and severe storms five times faster than today. GOES-R’s environmental data products will support short-term weather forecasts and severe storm watches and warnings, maritime forecasts, seasonal predictions, drought outlooks and space weather predictions. GOES-R products will improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, increase thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time, improve aviation flight route planning, provide data for long-term climate variability studies, improve solar flare warnings for communications and navigation disruptions, and enhance space weather monitoring.
The program is a collaborative effort between the NOAA and NASA to develop, deploy and operate the satellites.