After a 20-day journey and nine motor firings, the nation’s newest
environmental satellite — equipped with the latest solar flare warning
technology — has safely reached orbit 22,300 miles above the equator with an
eye toward North and South America, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration reported today.

The NOAA geostationary satellite was re-named GOES-12 after reaching its
operational orbit. Launched as GOES-M from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Fla., on July 23, the satellite is the last in the current series of five
advanced NOAA weather satellites operated by NOAA and designed to improve
forecasting of Earth and space weather. GOES-12 will remain in operational
storage until called upon to replace one of the two older geostationary
satellites that could expire in the next year or two.

“When we need to tap this satellite, GOES-12 will guarantee a seamless stream
of weather observations and atmospheric measurements for the United States,”
said Kathy Kelly, director of satellite operations at NOAA. “It will ensure
that NOAA’s weather and space forecasters have the data they need to issue
life-saving warnings and forecasts.”

The agency operates two geostationary and two polar-orbiting satellites that
provide meteorologists information vital to timely and accurate forecasts.
GOES-12 is the first to have a sophisticated operational instrument for
detecting solar storms. The solar X-ray imager is the most advanced
instrument of its kind, able to take a full and detailed snapshot of the
sun’s atmosphere each minute. The first test image is expected on August 29.

The X-ray images from GOES-12 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 ground.

The data gathered by the GOES satellites, combined with data from Doppler
radars and the automated surface observing system, greatly aid forecasters
in providing better advance warnings of thunderstorms, flash floods,
hurricanes, winter storms and other severe weather; which can save lives,
preserve property, and benefit marine, aviation and commercial interests
across the country. In addition, the satellites can relay distress signals
from people, aircraft, or ships to search and rescue ground stations of the
search and rescue satellite-aided tracking system.

GOES-8, the first state-of-the-art geostationary environmental satellite,
was launched April 13, 1994. It is currently positioned at 75 degrees west
longitude, overlooking the east coast of North and South America and well
into the Atlantic Ocean. GOES-10, launched April 25, 1997, is overlooking
the West Coast and well into the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages satellite design, development and
launch, and on-orbit checkout of the spacecraft for NOAA.

NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
operates the GOES series of satellites. After the satellites complete
on-orbit checkout, NESDIS assumes responsibility for command and control,
data receipt, and product generation and distribution. NESDIS is the
nation’s primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data.
NESDIS’ environmental satellites are used for weather forecasting, climate
monitoring, and other environmental applications such as fire detection,
ozone monitoring, and sea surface temperature measurements.

Editors Notes:

For more information and imagery on GOES please visit:

For information on NESDIS:

For information on GSFC: