Best weather satellite ever built rockets toward orbit

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Once in orbit, the new satellite will undergo about 11 months of testing before it joins the operational fleet, which now numbers three units, NOAA said. Once that was resolved another issue down range forced the hold to continue.

NOAA's GOES-R weather satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, was successfully launched on November 19, 6:42 pm. Then the next-generation GOES-R went into space for a 20-year weather-monitoring mission. Without them, accurate weather forecasts wouldn't be possible.

"Our nation now has a new weather sentinel, and the data it will produce will soon be vital to our severe storm prediction and warnings", said Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Civil Space at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. It also means commercial shipping and aviation can better plan - and save money in the process.

The next satellite in the series, GOES-S, is scheduled for launch in early 2018, followed by GOES-T around 2020 and GOES-U around 2024.

NBC's Al Roker and about 50 other TV meteorologists descended on Cape Canaveral for the launch, as well as 8,000 space program workers and guests. "It'll help us track severe storms, including tornadoes, forecast wildfire movement, track plumes from volcanic eruptions and tell whether a hurricane is intensifying".

Artist's illustration of the GOES-16 weather satellite in orbit. From that lofty perch, GOES-R will view the entire western hemisphere.

The United States has several weather satellites in orbit, but GOES-R will stand out from the rest. It's a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA. This enables NOAA to gather data using three times more channels, four times the resolution, at five times faster than before.

GOES-R's Geostationary Lightning Mapper will be the first instrument capable of mapping lightning strikes as well as in-cloud discharges from geostationary orbit.

Another cool feature of the new satellite is what as known as a GLM, or Geostationary Lightning Mapper.

NOAA is touting the newest improvements in the upcoming launch this Saturday of GOES-R.

The most important contribution of satellites to weather forecasting is the imagery they take of weather systems from space.

Ed Grigsby of NASA, the deputy assistant director of the GOES-R program, said NASA has a rich history of making science vision a reality.

Data from the GOES series of satellites is available to the public on NOAA's website.

When that happens, GOES-16 will take on the name of its predecessor.

GOES-R also contains two sunward-looking instruments that monitor the activity of our star and its many belches of radiation.

GOES-16 is created to operate for 10 years, though it has enough fuel on board to last for 18 years, Volz said.

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