An advanced environmental satellite equipped with instruments to monitor
Earth’s weather and with a telescope that will be used to forecast geomagnetic
storms in space, is being prepared for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, Florida.

The satellite, GOES-M, will monitor hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, flash
floods and other severe weather. It is the first of the GOES satellites
equipped with a Solar X-ray Imager to detect solar storms.

Liftoff of GOES-M, or Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, is
targeted for July 15 during a launch window that opens at 2:59 a.m. EDT from
Pad A at Complex 36. GOES-M will be launched on an Atlas II rocket.

GOES satellites are the workhorses of weather forecasting in the United
States. The real-time weather data gathered by GOES satellites, combined with
data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing systems, greatly
aids weather forecasters in providing better warnings of severe weather.

The Solar X-ray Imager will take a full-disk image of the Sun’s atmosphere
once every minute. The images will be used by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force to
monitor and forecast solar flares, coronal mass ejections, coronal holes and
active regions.

These features are the dominant sources of disturbances in space weather that
lead to geomagnetic storms. The ability to monitor and forecast such events
is valuable to operators and users of military and civilian radio and
satellite communications systems, navigation systems and power networks, as
well as to astronauts, high-altitude aviators and scientists.

“The SXI will provide the kind of improvements in space weather forecasting
that satellite imagery did for tracking hurricanes,” said Steven Hill, SXI
Program Manager at NOAA’s Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado.

The images taken by the Solar X-ray Imager will be available in real time
to the general public via the World Wide Web, through NOAA’s National
Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colo. When available, the images will
be at:

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

“NASA is excited about providing another fine tool for the NOAA to use in
weather operations, including space weather forecasts,” said Martin A. Davis,
GOES program manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
“The launch of the GOES-M is the continuation of a 25-year joint program
between NASA and NOAA.”

GOES-M will be stored on orbit ready for operation when needed as a replacement
for GOES-8 or -10. It joins GOES-11, also in storage. “GOES-M will ensure
continuity of GOES data, especially for the Atlantic hurricane season,”
Dittberner said. The satellite will be renamed GOES-12 once reaching
geostationary orbit.

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

The Goddard Space Flight Center manages the design, development and launch of
the spacecraft for NOAA. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible
for government oversight of launch operations and countdown activities.

GOES-M, built by Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space and
Communications Ltd., will be launched on an Atlas IIA rocket, built by Lockheed
Martin. The Solar X-ray imager was built by the Marshall Space Flight Center,
Huntsville, Ala. The on-board meteorological instruments for GOES-M include an
imager and a sounder manufactured by ITT Industries Aerospace/Communications

Division. The other instruments on GOES-M that will monitor the space
environment are: an Energetic Particle Sensor, a High Energy Proton and Alpha
Detector Monitor, X-ray Sensors and two magnetometers.

GOES information and imagery are available at:

Space weather information is available at:

Note to Editors: GOES-M b-roll of imagery and other materials will be broadcast
during the NASA TV Video File feed scheduled for June 21, 2001 at noon, 3:00
p.m., 6:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and midnight EDT. The video file will also be
broadcast at these same times on the day of the prelaunch press briefing and
on the day of the launch. 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.

[NOTE: An image supporting this release is available at (968KB)]