GOES 2 After a long and distinguished career spanning
almost 24 years, one of the nation’s workhorse satellites was
boosted into higher orbit and removed from service, announced
the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric
. GOES-2, launched from Cape
on June 16, 1977, was operational as an imaging
satellite until 1993, when it stopped giving imagery of cloud
conditions across the United States. At that time GOES-2 was
deactivated, but left in its old orbit position.

From May 1 to 5, 2001, NOAA performed de-orbit
maneuvers designed to boost the satellite into super-synchronous
orbit, about 186 miles (300 kilometers) above the geosynchronous
altitude of 22,300 miles (35,680 kilometers). This maneuver
made room for another geosynchronous satellite to be launched.
Because there are many satellites in geosynchronous orbit at
the 22, 300 mile altitude, it is important to make room for new
satellites. Even though GOES-2 went dark in 1993, it was still
of use to people on the ground.

In 1995, it was re-activated to broadcast
the Pan-Pacific Education and Communication Experiments by Satellite
program administered by the University of Hawaii. PEACESAT
is a public service satellite telecommunications network that
links educational institutions, regional organizations, and governments
in the Pacific Islands region.

GOES-2 was the second operational satellite
in NOAA’s Geostationary
Operational Environmental Satellite
system of 11 satellites
to date. It outlived its expected three-year lifetime. The
satellite, a cylinder 75 inches in diameter and 106 inches high,
weighed 650 pounds. The sides of the cylinder were covered
by 15,000 solar cells which, along with batteries, provided power
for the satellite. The spacecraft was stabilized in space by
spinning, much like a top, and rotated at 100 revolutions per

The principal instrument on board was the
Visible Infrared Spin Scan Radiometer, which provided imagery
of cloud conditions. The satellite had the capability to monitor
extreme weather events (such as hurricanes and typhoons) continuously;
relay meteorological data from over 10,000 surface locations
into a central processing center for incorporation into numerical
weather prediction models; and to perform facsimile transmission
of processed images and weather maps to WEFAX
field stations. In addition, a Space Environment Monitor to
look at space weather, and a Data Collection System to gather
data from buoys were onboard.

The de-orbit maneuvers were executed from
the Kokee Park Geophysical Observatory station in Hawaii by a
team of NOAA and NASA personnel,
in coordination with NOAA’s
Satellite Operations Control Center
in Suitland, Md.