A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket has successfully launched the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) – T mission for NOAA, NASA, and NASA’s Launch Services Program on March 1st, 2022.
Liftoff took place at 4:38 P.M. from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS). GOES-T is a powerful weather satellite that will be responsible for monitoring weather patterns and improving forecasts across the Western United States and North America, including Alaska and Hawaii. GOES-T was manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado, and is the third satellite in the GOES-R series. The two previous missions, GOES-16 (GOES-R) and GOES-17 (GOES-S), also launched aboard Atlas V rockets in 2016 and 2018. Once GOES-T reaches its final orbit, it will become GOES-18 and replace GOES-17, which experienced significant issues with its primary camera soon after launch.
All GOES satellites are launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). Once orbit-raising is complete, the satellites match the speed of Earth’s rotation, appearing to hover motionless over a given region from the ground. In the case of GOES-T, the satellite will provide enhanced imagery of the Western hemisphere.
Once operational, GOES-T will monitor weather patterns and forecasts, hoping to provide Americans with life-saving information on climate change and natural disasters. Dan Lindsey, a NOAA GOES-R program scientist, stated in an interview that GOES-18 will deliver 60 times more imagery than the previous generation the GOES-R series is replacing. The satellite will become operational around October 2022 and is expected to start delivering actionable data and imagery by 2023 after a several-month commissioning process. GOES-T is ULA’s second launch of 2022 and the 92nd launch of its Atlas V rocket.
ULA also managed to squeeze Atlas V’s GOES-T launch in less than 48 hours before SpaceX’s next Falcon 9 Starlink mission, which is set to lift off no earlier than (NET) Thursday morning, March 3rd from a pad just two miles (~3 km) to the north.