NASA launches advanced weather satellite for western U.S.

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  • NASA launched another of the world’s most advanced weather satellites on Thursday, this time to safeguard the western U.S.

About GOES-S satellite:

  • The GOES-S satellite thundered toward orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket, slicing through a hazy late afternoon sky. Dozens of meteorologists gathered for the launch, including TV crews from the Weather Channel and WeatherNation.
  • GOES-S is the second satellite in an approximately $11 billion effort that’s already revolutionising forecasting with astonishingly fast, crisp images of hurricanes, wildfires, floods, mudslides and other natural calamities.
  • The first spacecraft in the series, GOES-16, has been monitoring the Atlantic and East Coast for the past year for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . The same first-class service is now coming to the Pacific region.
  • Besides the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, GOES-S also will keep watch over Mexico and Central America. It will become GOES-17 once it reaches its intended 22,000-mile-high orbit over the equator in a few weeks, and should be officially operational by year’s end.
  • With these two new satellites, NOAA’s high-definition coverage will stretch from the Atlantic near West Africa, a hotbed for hurricane formation, all the way across the U.S. and the Pacific out to New Zealand.

‘Eyes in the sky’

  • It’s the third weather tracker launched by NASA in just over a year- “three brilliant eyes in the sky,” as NOAA satellite director Stephen Volz puts it. GOES-16 launched in late 2016 and an environmental satellite rocketed into a polar orbit from California last November.
  • These next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, or GOES, are “a quantum leap above” the federal agency’s previous weather sentinels.
  • This is the 18th launch of a GOES since 1975; one was lost in an explosion during liftoff and all but three of the satellites already up there are retired. Rockets by United Launch Alliance, a venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, carried all those GOES.
  • Even as it was still being checked in orbit, GOES-16 provided invaluable data to firefighters battling blazes in Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere last March and to Houston-area rescue teams in the flooded aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last August, according to officials. GOES-16 also observed the uncertain path of Hurricanes Irma and the rapidly intensifying Hurricane Maria in September.