The fourth in a series
of five advanced U.S. weather satellites was successfully launched
this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NOAA
and NASA announced today.

The Geostationary
Operational Environmental Satellite
, now called NOAA GOES-L,
will be renamed NOAA GOES-11 once geostationary orbit is achieved.
These satellites orbit the equatorial plane of the Earth at a
speed matching the Earth’s rotation. This allows them to hover
continuously over one position on the surface. The geostationary
orbit is usually reached at about 35,800 km (22,300 miles) above
the Earth, high enough to allow the satellites a full-disc view
of the Earth.

"GOES satellites are vital
to weather forecasting in the United States," said Gerry
Dittberner, NOAA’s GOES program manager. "The GOES satellites
are a critical component of the ongoing National
Weather Service
modernization program, aiding forecasters
in providing more precise and timely forecasts. With GOES-L,
we are ensuring the continuity of GOES data."

The real-time weather data
gathered by GOES satellites, combined with data from Doppler
and automated surface observing systems, greatly aids
weather forecasters in providing better warnings of thunderstorms,
winter storms, flash floods, hurricanes, and other severe
. These warnings help to save lives, preserve property,
and benefit commercial interests.

The United States operates
two meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles
over the equator, one over the East Coast and one over the West
Coast. NOAA GOES-10, launched in 1997, is currently overlooking
the West Coast out into the Pacific including Hawaii; it is located
at 135 degrees west longitude. NOAA GOES-8, launched in April
1994, is overlooking the East Coast out into the Atlantic Ocean
and is positioned at 75 degrees west.

NOAA GOES-L will be stored
on orbit ready for operation when needed as a replacement for
GOES-8 or -10. "NOAA GOES-L will ensure continuity of GOES
data from two GOES, especially for the Atlantic hurricane season,"
Dittberner said. The satellite will be renamed NOAA GOES-11 once
reaching geostationary orbit.

The launch of GOES-L, 40 years
after the launch of the first meteorological satellite by the
United States, marks a milestone in international cooperation,"
said Professor Olu Patrick Obasi, secretary-general of the World
Meteorological Organization." It symbolises the continued
commitment of the United States to the World Meteorological Organization
and in particular, its support to the Global Observing System
of WMO’s World Weather Watch. GOES-L will join the constellation
of geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites in monitoring
weather and the components of the climate system in support of
disaster mitigation, research and various socio-economic development
activities. GOES-L will be vitally important to all the programs
and member countries of the WMO."

NOAA’s National Environmental
Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the GOES series
of satellites, which are acquired through NOAA’s Systems Acquisition
Office. After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NOAA
assumes responsibility for command and control, data receipt,
and product generation and distribution.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
Center manages the design, development and launch of the spacecraft.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for government
oversight of launch operations and countdown activities. NOAA’s
Systems Acquisition Office provides programmatic and acquisition
guidelines to both Goddard and Kennedy. GOES-L, built by Space
Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications
Ltd., was launched on an Atlas IIA rocket, built by Lockheed
Martin. The on-board meteorological instruments for GOES-L include
an imager and a sounder manufactured by ITT Industries Aerospace/Communications

The final satellite in the
current GOES series will be launched as required to support NOAA’s
dual-satellite geostationary observing system.

Video file feed: A GOES-L
B-roll of imagery and other materials will be broadcast during
NASA TV video file feed scheduled for May 3 and May 4 at noon,
3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and midnight EDT. NASA TV is
broadcast on GE-2, transponder 9C, C-band, located at 85 degrees
west Longitude. The frequency is 3880 MHz. Polarization is vertical
and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz.

GOES information and imagery are available at the following Web

All About NOAA

is the difference between a geostationary and polar-orbiting

NOAA Media Contacts:
Patricia Viets,
NOAA Satellite Service,
(301) 457-5005 or NASA’s Cynthia O’Carroll at (301) 614-5563.