GOES-R, the most advanced weather satellite of the United States was launched on Nov 19, Saturday. The rocket, carrying the satellite lifted off with jets of orange and yellow flames aiming to enter an orbit that is 22,000 miles above the Earth.
Launched atop an Atlas V rocket, GOES-R is a collaborative mission between NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The four-satellite program (GOES-R/S/T/U) is seeking to expand the ongoing GOES satellite system's operations until 2036.
Fitted with the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking system, GOES-R is the 16th in the series of satellites that will be observing meteorological conditions on Earth.
Designed for 10 years of operational life GOES-R will be renamed GOES-16, once it enters the orbit.
Michael Curie, NASA's launch commentator described the liftoff as "America's most advanced weather eye in the sky."
In the words of Curie, the liftoff has elevated environmental intelligence to new heights.
Smooth Launch of GOES-R
At 6:42 p.m. Eastern, the United Launch Alliance rocket and GOES-R spacecraft roared into the sky with a smooth climb.
The two-stage Atlas V rocked was backed by four solid-fueled boosters, which leaped off from the Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida's East Coast to the sky above the Atlantic Ocean.
"The flight hardware performed beautifully throughout the count and the weather was perfect," said Omar Baez, the NASA launch director.
A few minutes after the launch, the single-engine Centaur upper stage took over the propelling of the three-ton satellite to the low-Earth orbit before ushering it to the designated geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Three-and-a-half hours later, the GOES-R spacecraft segregated from the Centaur and the satellite started flying on its own to the planned orbit. The solar arrays meant for providing power to the spacecraft were also unfurled.
GOES Legacy Of Four Decades
In 1975, the first operational GOES satellite was launched. Later the NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center took over the launches in 2000 and placed the GOES-L into space, using the Atlas IIA rocket.
Already, a group of GOES or Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is in orbit and delivering objective observations of the Western Hemisphere. What makes GOES-R special is the status as the most advanced in the series.
GOES-R is deemed a game changer as it will be using the most advanced instruments in the operational mode for observation of weather on Earth and deliver them with extreme accuracy in storm intensity, Earth related developments, solar and space weather.
In terms of efficiency, GOES-R will be delivering three times more spectral information, spatial resolution and five times more coverage than previous GOES satellites.
The new weather satellite will deliver real-time lightning maps and imagery with updates coming at every 30 seconds.
"Soon, we'll have an asset for forecasting that is basically a closed-circuit television looking at our weather," added Omar Baez.