Geostationary Weather Satellite Launched Successfully
A new weather-spotting satellite was launched successfully into a geostationary orbit, just as the 2006 hurricane season begins.
NOAA and NASA announced the launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The NOAA GOES-N satellite was lofted into orbit by a Boeing Delta IV rocket. The spacecraft separation occurred four hours and 21 minutes after the 6:11 p.m. Wednesday launch.
The first signal acquisition occurred six hours and 30 minutes after the launch at the Air Force Tracking Station, Diego Garcia, located in the Indian Ocean.
The NOAA satellite–initially called GOES-N–will be designated GOES-13 once it reaches final orbit.
It will supply data critical for fast, accurate forecasts and warnings for severe weather, including tornadoes, winter storms and hurricanes.
The eye in the sky assumes its lofty position just months after Louisiana, Mississippi and other Gulf of Mexico states were devastated by an immensely powerful storm, Hurricane Katrina.
The new satellite also will detect solar storm activity, relay distress signals from emergency beacons, monitor the oceans and scan the landscape for the latest drought and flood conditions.
“This satellite will serve the nation by monitoring conditions that trigger dangerous weather, and it will serve the world by contributing vast amounts of observational data, as part of our contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
GOES-13, the first spacecraft in the new GOES-N/O/P series, features a highly stable pointing platform, which will improve performance of the imager and sounder instruments.
The new satellite also has expanded measurements for the space and solar environment monitoring instruments. And it features a new dedicated broadcast capability to be used by the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network and a new digital weather facsimile capability for higher quality transmissions of data and products.
Once it reaches geostationary orbit, GOES-13 will undergo a series of tests for approximately six months before completing its check-out phase.
After check-out, GOES-13 is expected to be put into a storage mode at 105 degrees West. It will be ready to replace one of the two existing NOAA GOES spacecraft should either experience trouble.
NOAA GOES satellites orbit the equatorial plane of the Earth at a speed matching the planet’s rotation. This allows them to hover continuously over one position on the surface. The geostationary orbit is reached at about 22,300 miles above the Earth, high enough to allow the satellites a full-disc view of the Earth.