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Finished GOES-S Satellite Slated for Launch in 2018



The first of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES) was launched into orbit on November 19, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This was the launch of one of four next generation weather satellites that will be in sync with the Earth’s rotation, and send back important weather information in a way like we’ve never seen before.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R). Liftoff was at 6:42 p.m. EST. Credit:  NOAA NESDIS

“NOAA likes to communicate it as the difference between black and white television and high definition television,” said Tim Gasparrini, GOES-R Program Manager at Lockheed Martin.  “It’s a substantial change.”

These satellites are huge upgrades providing 3 times the number of spectral channels, four times the resolution, and sending back data five times faster to aid meteorologists during crucial weather events.

“Hurricane tracking, hurricane predictions, as well as our Geostationary Lightning Mapper will help with tornadoes and lightning and severe storms, earlier predictions for that,”  said Laird Kantruss, GOES-S Vehicle Manager at Lockheed Martin.  “So actually that will help life and property basically.”

In a cleanroom at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center, engineers Neil Tomosada and Sean McCully inspect the sensor head for the Geostationary Lightning Mapper.  Credit:  Lockheed Martin

GOES-16 is currently monitoring the Western Hemisphere’s weather, and there will be three more joining it over the next decade to watch over nearly half the planet.

“Once we start the assembly process, it takes us about two years to assemble, and send it through a rigorous test program,” Gasparrini said.

The GOES-S, which is the next satellite of the series to be launched, is built and will begin electromagnetic testing in August.  This is to ensure the satellite can handle conditions in space, withstand worse case scenarios, and do it’s job once it’s in orbit.

“There’s a total of six instruments on it, two of them, the Advanced Baseline Imager and the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, do what we would call terrestrial weather where they are looking at the weather on Earth,” Gasparrini said.

The finished GOES-S satellite at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, CO.

These instruments will help take weather forecasting to the next level and beyond.

“There’s 4 other instruments that look at space weather, how the sun affects the environment on the Earth,” Gasparrini said.

The addition of the GOES-S satellite will also add an incredible capability that will continue to improve weather forecasting both in North and South America.

“Especially in Nowcasting and in the forecast from one to five days ahead,” said Julian Baez, president of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Association III.  Baez attended the NOAA Satellite Conference, designed to help users prepare for NOAA’s next-generation satellites.

The GOES-R series will be impacting more than 300-million people across the United States for decades to come.

“It’s been a privilege for all of us that work here to work on something that affects that many people on a daily basis,” Gasparrini said.

The GOES-S launch window opens in early 2018.

Want to see an up close and personal view of the GOES-S?  WeatherNation has the first 360° view of the satellite going into the Thermal Vacuum Acoustics Chamber (TVAC), courtesy of Lockheed Martin.


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