May 12, 2016 – The GOES-R team has begun a series of important rehearsals to simulate specific steps in the deployment of the satellite, such as spacecraft separation. Mission rehearsals use a satellite simulator to train operations personnel and test the readiness of the ground system.
These simulations help test different parts of launch, like orbit raising, post-separation events, solar array deployment, and propulsion system readiness. They simulate both nominal (normal) and contingency operations and are conducted at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF) in Suitland, Maryland.
“Mission rehearsals are just that. They are practice for the main event, in this case, the launch of the GOES-R satellite,” said GOES-R Series Program Director, Greg Mandt. “By stepping through the engineering needed to operate the satellite, from the launch sequence to the operations of our ground system, we are ensuring our teams are prepared for launch across the board.”
To date, GOES-R has completed two of six planned mission rehearsals. Four additional mission rehearsals will take place in the coming months and will simulate critical post-launch events like spacecraft separation from the launch vehicle, instrument activations and the magnetometer boom deployment.
GOES-R will launch later this year on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle from Florida. Once launched and in its geostationary orbit, GOES-R will be known as GOES-16. The satellite will undergo an extended checkout and validation phase of approximately one year and then transition into operations.
GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next generation geostationary satellites, which will include GOES-S, T, and U. These satellites will provide significant enhancements for weather forecasters at the National Weather Service. GOES-R will have the capability to monitor multiple weather events and provide real-time weather forecast information to the NOAA’s National Weather Service. Improved instrument technology on GOES-R includes more visible and infrared channels, four times the imaging resolution, and a brand new lightning detection capability.
GOES-R is being developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado. In addition to the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin was chosen by NASA to design the Magnetometer, the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, and the new Solar Ultra-Violet Imager.
Since 1975, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) have provided continuous imagery and data on atmospheric conditions and solar activity. They have even aided in search and rescue of people in distress. GOES data products have led to more accurate and timely weather forecasts and better understanding of long-term climate conditions. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) builds and launches the GOES, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates them.
The satellites circle the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit the equatorial plane of the earth at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation. This allows them to stay in a fixed position in the sky, remaining stationary with respect to a point on the ground. The satellites continually view the continental United States, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Central and South America, and Southern Canada. The satellites operate approximately 22,300 miles above Earth.