S Satellite Roars Into Orbit

Riding 2.1 million pounds of thrust from its RD-180 main engine and four solid rocket boosters the Atlas 5 exceeds the speed of sound

A new U.S. satellite that offers speedy, high-resolution images of storms and may save lives by making forecasts more accurate is poised to launch from a NASA launchpad Thursday, officials said.

The GOES-S satellite thundered toward orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket, slicing through a hazy late afternoon sky. Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett 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.

NOAA in partnership with NASA will launch the next generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) later to be named as GOES-West. The first GOES satellite was launched in November 2016.

Under the nose is an 11,000 pound, $220-million weather satellite.

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An advanced satellite is heading to space as part of a system that's changing the severe weather game. These two satellites will together offer the most comprehensive picture for satellite monitoring over the United States in history.

The satellite has since shifted its coverage area to the East Coast.

From there, it 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, according to NASA.

At the news conference and at another one held earlier on February 27, NOAA and NASA researchers shared stories of how GOES-East's remarkably clear views have aided in search-and-rescue operations as well as in forecasting.

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As Hurricane Harvey approached the Texas coast, the satellite revealed the clouds sinking in the eye and the eye expanding as the storm morphed from a category 2 to 4, Uccellini said. During wildfire season in California, people using GOES data were able to warn local authorities about fires before they'd even been spotted on the ground. The same first-class service is now coming to the Pacific region.

Once GOES-S is positioned in a geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth, after approximately two weeks, it will be renamed GOES-17.

The four-satellite GOES-R program has a total budget of $10.8 billion through its entire life cycle. GOES-T is expected to launch in the 2020 timeframe and GOES-U will follow suit around 2024.

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