The nation’s most advanced satellite
to detect harmful solar flares and gather data on daily weather and severe
storms in the United States is ready for launch, the Commerce Department’s
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today.
NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite is planned for launch
aboard an Atlas rocket on July 22 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
launch window is from 3:01 – 4:25 a.m. EDT.
The GOES-M satellite is the fifth
of five advanced weather satellites operated by NOAA and designed to help
improve forecasting of Earth’s weather and space weather.
GOES-M is the first
to have a sophisticated operational instrument for detecting solar storms.

“The GOES-M satellite is much more than our latest weather sentinel in the
heavens,” said Scott Gudes, acting administrator of NOAA.
“It will give our
space weather forecasters the tools to better detect the sun’s solar storms
and predict how these solar flares might impact power grids and electronic
systems on Earth, thanks to a new instrument called a solar X-ray imager —
the most advanced instrument of its kind.

The solar X-ray imager will take a full and detailed snapshot of the sun’s
atmosphere each minute.
The images will be used by NOAA and the U.S. Air
Force to forecast the intensity and speed of solar disturbances that could
destroy satellite electronics, disrupt long-distance radio communications or
surge power grids.
The imager enables forecasters to better protect billions
of dollars worth of commercial and government assets in space and on the

In addition to solar flare warnings, the GOES-M will become a workhouse
satellite for NOAA.
It will be stored on orbit until needed as a replacement
for GOES-8 or -10, the current GOES satellites.
The real-time weather data
gathered by NOAA’s GOES satellites, combined with data from the agency’s
Doppler radars on the ground and automated surface observing systems, greatly
aids weather forecasters in providing better warnings of thunderstorms, winter
storms, flash floods, hurricanes, and other severe weather.
These warnings
help to save lives, preserve property, and benefit commercial interests.

“GOES satellites are a critical component of the ongoing National Weather
Service modernization program within NOAA.
Weather data collected by this
GOES-M satellite will provide forecasters with more precise and timely
forecast products,” said Gerry Dittberner, NOAA’s GOES-M program manager.
“Having the GOES-M in orbit and ready to go into operation ensures the
continuity of weather data and storm warnings remain uninterrupted for the
Western Hemisphere.

It will take 17 days for the GOES-M to reach geostationary orbit, and will
then be named GOES-12.
It will then undergo a series of tests before
completing its checkout phase in about three months.
GOES 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.
geostationary orbit is usually reached at about 22,300 miles above the Earth,
high enough to allow the satellites a full-disc view of the Earth.

The United States operates two meteorological satellites in geostationary
orbit 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
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’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.

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 the management
of countdown activities.
NOAA’s Systems Acquisition Office provides
programmatic and acquisition guidelines to both Goddard and Kennedy.

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 mission will be conducted by International Launch
The on-board meteorological instruments for GOES-M include an
imager and a sounder manufactured by ITT under a subcontract to Space