The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has chosen Fairmont, W.Va., as the location of the back-up ground station for the nation’s next generation of geostationary weather satellites, the agency announced Dec. 11.

NOAA expects the first satellite of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R series to launch in 2015. The primary ground stations for the satellites are NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md., and its Command and Data Acquisition Station at Wallops Island, Va.

In the event that these stations are disabled, the Fairmont site will enable NOAA to continue operation of the satellite fleet, a NOAA press release said. The General Services Administration signed a 15-year lease with a five-year option for a property in a local technology hub to host the site. NOAA will select in mid-2010 a contractor to build the antennas and antenna pads, initial construction of which will be under way by 2011, the release said.

Fairmont was chosen after a nationwide assessment of other possible sites, the release said. Among the reasons for choosing Fairmont are that it is far enough from the primary sites to not be prone to the same geographical hazards, NOAA said.

Fairmont is also in the congressional district of U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee.