New NOAA Satellite Reaches Orbit

Satellite features enhanced severe weather and solar storm detection capabilities

June 27, 2009

GOES-O launch.

GOES-O launched at Space Launch Complex-37, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

High resolution (Credit: NASA)

NOAA and NASA officials announced a new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), launched tonight, successfully reached orbit, joining three other GOES spacecraft that help NOAA forecasters track life-threatening weather and solar storms.

The new satellite, GOES-O, lifted off at 6:51 p.m. (EDT) from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and separated from the launch vehicle at 11:12 p.m (EDT). At the same time, the first signal was captured at the Air Force Tracking Station, Diego Garcia, located in the Indian Ocean.

“Reliable satellite coverage helps us see severe weather as it develops,” said Mary E. Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. “With more than a thousand tornadoes touching down in the United States each year, and hurricanes a serious risk to residents along the Gulf and East coastlines, it’s critical GOES-O is in orbit and ready when needed.”
GOES-O is the second spacecraft in the GOES-N/O/P series and features significant improvements in the instruments that capture high-resolution pictures of weather patterns and atmospheric measurements.

“The imagery and data we get from GOES is key to our ability to continuously monitor and diagnose weather in the tropics,” said Bill Read, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami. “Continued improvements in the type and quality of GOES data will contribute to improvements in tropical cyclone forecasts.”

GOES mission decal.

GOES logo.

High resolution (Credit: NASA)

GOES-O also provides expanded measurements for space and solar environment monitoring, including the Solar X-Ray Imager. The SXI is improving forecasts and warnings for solar disturbances, protecting billions of dollars of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground and lessening the effect of power surges for the satellite-based electronics and communications industry. On July 7, GOES-O will be placed in its final orbit and renamed GOES-14.

NOAA has two operational GOES satellites hovering 22,300 miles above the equator – GOES-12, in the east, and GOES-11, in the west – each provide continuous observations of environmental conditions of North, Central and South America and surrounding oceans. While these two are operational, another GOES satellite, GOES-13, is in orbital storage and can be activated if one of the other satellites experiences trouble. These satellites supply the data critical for fast, accurate weather forecasts and warnings, detecting solar storm activity and relaying distress signals from emergency beacons.

Once it reaches geostationary orbit, GOES-O will undergo a series of tests for approximately six months before completing its “check-out” phase. After check out, GOES-O will be placed into orbital storage mode.

NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., procures and manages the development and launch of the satellites for NOAA on a cost reimbursable basis.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.