ULA Atlas V Rocket Launches GOES-S Weather Satellite into Orbit for NASA, NOAA

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the GOES-S mission for NASA and NOAA lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on March 1 at 5:02 p.m. EST.

GOES-S mission managers confirmed at 8:58 p.m. the spacecraft’s solar arrays successfully deployed and the spacecraft was operating on its own power.

GOES-S is the second satellite in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R series of satellites, which have played a vital role in weather forecasting, storm tracking and meteorological research. ULA’s current and heritage Atlas and Delta rockets have launched every GOES satellite, first launching in 1975.

The satellite will provide faster, more accurate and more detailed data, in near real-time, to track storm systems, lightning, wildfires, coastal fog and other hazards that affect the western United States.

“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.”

“We at NASA Science are proud to support our joint agency partner NOAA on today’s launch of GOES-S, a national asset that will impact lives across the Western Hemisphere each and every day,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, who attended the launch.


GOES-S will be operated from a vantage point 22,300 miles above Earth to cover the western United States, Alaska and Hawaii, providing unprecedented advancements in the clarity and timeliness of observations over the region. The satellite will be renamed GOES-17 once positioned in the orbit.

Later this year, 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. From there, it constantly will provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements, real-time mapping of lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather.

In addition to improving weather forecasts, GOES-17 will help forecasters locate and track wildfires – invaluable information that emergency response teams need to fight fires and evacuate people out of harm’s way. GOES-17 also will be an important tool for forecasters to track and predict the formation and dissipation of fog, which can disrupt airport operations.

It will work in tandem with the GOES-R (GOES-16) satellite that was successfully launched by an Atlas V rocket on Nov. 19, 2016. GOES-16 is the first satellite in NOAA’s new geostationary series and is now positioned at the GOES-East position.

The next-generation GOES-R series scans the Earth five times faster at four times the image resolution, with triple the number of data channels than previous GOES satellites for more reliable forecasts.

GOES-17 will extend observational high-resolution satellite coverage of the revolutionary new technology aboard GOES-16 to most of the Western Hemisphere, from the west coast of Africa to New Zealand, and from near the Arctic Circle to near the Antarctic Circle. The satellite will provide more and better data than is currently available over the northeastern Pacific Ocean, the birthplace of many weather systems that affect the continental U.S.

NOAA manages the GOES-R Series program through an integrated NOAA/NASA office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. NASA also oversees the acquisition of the spacecraft, instruments and launch vehicles. Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft and is responsible for spacecraft development, integration and testing.

Mission operations will be performed by NOAA at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida, provided the main instrument payload, the Advanced Baseline Imager, and the ground system, which includes the antenna system for data receipt. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management. ULA of Centennial, Colorado, is the provider of the Atlas V launch service.

Atlas V EELV 541

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 541 configuration, which includes a 5-meter payload fairing. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the four AJ-60A solid rocket boosters and the RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

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 Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the Nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 125 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.


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