Powerful GOES-U weather satellite launches into orbit of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket (video)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A next-generation weather satellite has left its home planet behind.

After concerns that the weather would not cooperate, a perfect window of opportunity opened today (June 25) for the launch of GOES-U, the fourth and final member of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) GOES-R series of Earth observation vessels.

GOES-U took a ride on a SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) here on the Space Coast, lifting off from the pad today at 5:26 PM EDT (2126 GMT). The assembled crowd erupted in thunderous applause as the muscular rocket roared into space on its tenth launch ever.

a large white rocket is launched into a blue sky, with the ocean in the background

a large white rocket is launched into a blue sky, with the ocean in the background

“I could feel the adrenaline rushing as the launch started. It was incredible,” said Dakota Smith, a satellite analyst and communicator at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), after watching his very first launch. “GOES has been a huge part of my career and my passion and my hobby and to see a satellite go up and know that we’re going to continue to get great images and I’m going to continue to work on this mission, it means a lot to me .

The Falcon Heavy consists of three modified, strapped-together first stages of SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. A second stage and its payload are located on top of the central booster.

The heavy lifter’s two side boosters returned to Earth today as planned and landed on Cape Canaveral Space Station, which is next to KSC, about eight minutes after launch. This homecoming provided a very different experience for spectators than the launches of GOES-U’s three satellites, all of which flew into space on United Launch Alliance satellites. Atlas V rocket, which is not reusable.

The central booster did not return safely on today’s mission; the launch required it to burn so much of its fuel that it did not have enough for a controlled return to Earth.

Related: How the GOES U satellite will change weather forecasting on Earth and in space forever

two rockets come down for a landing with the ocean in the backgroundtwo rockets come down for a landing with the ocean in the background

two rockets come down for a landing with the ocean in the background

The Falcon Heavy upper stage deployed GOES-U geostationary orbit22,236 miles (35,785 kilometers) above Soil, approximately 4.5 hours after launch as planned. At that time the satellite was renamed GOES-19.

Members of the mission team will put GOES-19 and its instruments through an extensive series of checks, after which the satellite will take the place of GOES-16, which was launched in November 2016 and currently occupies the GOES East position in the satellite network. (Yes, GOES’s naming conventions are confusing.)

a large white rocket launches through a clear blue skya large white rocket launches through a clear blue sky

a large white rocket launches through a clear blue sky

“After launch, there’s a period where we stabilize the orbit and then we turn on all the sensors; we call that first light and expect it in about two months,” Rick Spinrad, NOAA administrator, told Space.com soon. before today’s launch.

“We will then go through the process of swapping with GOES East, which is currently operational, and that will probably happen around April 2025,” he said. “At that point we will be fully operational and we will be replaced satellite will effectively go into storage to be used as a backup.”

four cube-shaped satellites above the Earthfour cube-shaped satellites above the Earth

four cube-shaped satellites above the Earth

GOES-19 will monitor much of the Western Hemisphere with its five scientific instruments. It will also play a major role in monitoring and studying space again using his new compact chronograph instrument (CCOR-1), developed by the Naval Research Lab.

“What it does is it takes an image of it the sun like it blacks out every 30 minutes and gives us an image and a warning if something is coming our way,” Jim Spann, a senior scientist in NOAA’s Office of Space Weather Operations, told Space.com.

“This is a new product from an operational perspective,” he added. ‘A coronagraph has been flying at the ESA since the mid-1990s [European Space Agency]/NASA SOHO mission, a science mission, and did a fantastic job. But it is already well past its age, and so to create a sustainable long-term operational capability, we fly this compact coronagraph.”

Today’s launch is part of a five-decade partnership between NOAA and NASA, involving more than 60 satellites providing data to support weather forecasting, climate studies and storm forecast.

a large white rocket launches through a clear blue skya large white rocket launches through a clear blue sky

a large white rocket is launched through a clear blue sky


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“We’ve been using it more, and in ways we didn’t expect when we first thought about what the GOES-R series could deliver,” Mike Brennan, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, told Space.com .

“For example, we found that the one-minute mesosector images are very useful in diagnosing the formation of tropical depressions or tropical storms,” ​​he added. “We found the high-resolution images useful in monitoring rapid intensification events and other aspects of the structural change of tropical cyclones. Just by having images more often, we see things we didn’t see before when we only had images every 30 or 60 minutes.” had an image GOES-U will be around for a long time, so it will help us maintain that level of high data quality that is so fundamentally important to every aspect of tropical cyclone forecasting, for years into the future.

The operational life of the current GOES-R series will extend into the 2030s. Its successor will be the Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) satellite systemthe first member of which will be launched in 2032.

“We’re so excited about GeoXO. We’re able to take everything we learned at GOES, and we’re going to put all of that into the GeoXO Series and make it an even better spacecraft,” said Jagdeep Shergill, GOES-R Series program manager at Lockheed Martin, told Space.com.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 12:45 a.m. ET on June 26 with news of the successful satellite deployment.

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