US Launched Satellite with Heavy Missile "Atlas"

Artist image of NOAA’s GOES-S satellite

This is "the most sophisticated weather forecast technology ever flown in space", commented Ajay Mehta of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency that oversees the satellite programme.

NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) is scheduled for launch around 3 p.m. MST in Florida.

Rolling out on the eve of liftoff with the GOES-S weather satellite, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket journeyed 1,800 feet from its vertical assembly hangar to Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 launch pad Wednesday.

An advanced satellite is heading to space as part of a system that's changing the severe weather game.

GOES-S is the second satellite in an approximately $11 billion effort that's already revolutionizing forecasting with astonishingly fast, crisp images of hurricanes, wildfires, floods, mudslides and other natural calamities. It will also provide high-resolution images above Alaska and nearby areas at high latitudes where the agency doesn't now have usable data from its "geostationary constellation".

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"I believe very strongly GOES-S will improve the scientific understanding for the western US, just like GOES-East has for the eastern USA, and is another step forward in our overall effort to build a weather-ready nation", Uccellini added.

Together, the new satellites represent "a quantum leap" above previous space-based weather stations, forecasters say. It is expected that the satellite will receive more accurate information on storm disasters such as storms, hurricanes, floods. An example of that, GOES 15 had a 4x4km resolution per pixel, while GOES S will have a 2x2km per pixel resolution.

"The new satellite will augment observations over the Pacific Ocean and around mountain ranges where radar coverage is limited or blocked", said Joe Pica, a National Weather Service manager. The satellite will scan the skies five times faster than the GOES-West satellite it will replace, will have four times the spatial resolution and use three times as many spectral bands.

And that translates into lives saved. Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft and is responsible for spacecraft development, integration and testing.

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