March 2, 2018 – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the GOES-S mission for NASA and NOAA lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 in Florida on March 1 at 3:02 p.m. MST. GOES-S is the second satellite in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R series of satellites, built by Lockheed Martin.
“Thank you to our partners at NASA and NOAA for the outstanding teamwork, as we delivered this next-generation satellite to orbit,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We are proud to serve as the ultimate launch provider, continuing our dedication to 100 percent mission success.”
Over the next two weeks, GOES-S will perform several instrument deployments and a series of maneuvers to bring the satellite into geostationary orbit, roughly 22,300 miles above Earth. At that time, GOES-S will be renamed GOES-17.
After undergoing a full checkout and validation of its six high-tech instruments, the new satellite will move to the GOES-West position and become operational later this year.
The GOES satellites play a vital role in weather forecasting, storm tracking, and meteorological research. They operate in geostationary orbit, completing one revolution in the same amount of time it takes for the Earth to rotate once on its polar axis, allowing the satellites to “stare” at a specific location on Earth.
GOES-S will work in tandem with GOES-16 (originally GOES-R), which launched on an Atlas V rocket on November 19, 2016. GOES-16 operates in the GOES-East position and has tracked devastating hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and along the East Coast.
Together, the two satellites will observe most of the Western Hemisphere, from the west coast of Africa to New Zealand. The region includes the northeastern Pacific – the birthplace of many of the weather systems that affect the continental U.S.
The sister satellites will continue to deliver weather data that supports short-term forecasting and severe storm warnings, maritime forecasts, and space weather predictions. Additionally, the technology will improve hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, increase thunderstorm and tornado warning lead time, improve wildfire detection, provide real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improve monitoring of solar activity.
“We’ll soon see the value of having two sophisticated geostationary satellites in operation, not only in the amount of lives saved through more accurate forecasts, but in cost savings throughout the economy,” said Stephen Volz, Ph.D., director, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “With GOES-S and GOES-16, we are able to cover about half the planet with the most sophisticated weather forecast technology ever flown in space.”
While GOES East and West keep watch over the Western Hemisphere, foreign counterparts on the other side of the world image the Eastern Hemisphere.
The GOES-R Series satellites are designed for 10 years of on-orbit operation, followed by up to five years of on-orbit storage. There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: -R, -S, -T and -U, which will extend satellite coverage through 2036.
NOAA manages the GOES-R Series program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office, with personnel from both agencies. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center oversees the acquisition of the GOES-R spacecraft and instruments. Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado, is building all four of the GOES-R Series satellites and is responsible for development, integration, and testing. Lockheed is also responsible for the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) and Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM). Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida, provides the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the primary instrument on the GOES-R satellites., along with the ground system, which includes the antenna system for data reception. The University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) provides the EXIS instrument suite. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is the provider of the Atlas V launch service.
This is the 76th launch of the Atlas V rocket, ULA’s 3rd launch in 2018 and the 126th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.
ULA’s next launch is the AFSPC-11 mission for the U.S. Air Force on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.