GOES-T weather satellite set to take off next week from Florida

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NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) is seen next to its banner inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida on Jan. 20, 2022. (NASA /Ben Smegelsky)

A vital piece of forecasting technology is set to launch from the Florida coast in less than a week in the form of a high-tech weather satellite capable of mapping lightning strikes and tracking forest fires in at the top.

The GOES-T satellite is part of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) program, a partnership between NASA and NOAA. The spacecraft will join its sister satellite GOES-16 more than 22,000 miles above Earth and become GOES-18 once in orbit. The new satellite, which has several vital upgrades, will replace the GOES-17 spacecraft currently in orbit.

Together, the satellites can continuously observe the Western Hemisphere, improving weather forecasts and mapping Earth’s weather, oceans and climate every 30 seconds.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is about to lift off March 1 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The two-hour launch window opens at 4:38 p.m.

BEFORE NOAA SATELLITES CAN IMPROVE WEATHER FORECASTS, HERE’S WHERE THEY ARE BUILT

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An artist’s rendering of GOES-R. (Photo credit: NASA)

The satellite traveled from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Colorado to Florida in the fall and has been at Kennedy Space Center awaiting liftoff since November.

GOES satellites are built and tested at Lockheed Martin, and L3 Harris Technologies supplies the GOES instruments.

GOES-T SATELLITE ARRIVES AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER IN PREPARATION FOR LAUNCH

Earlier this month, GOES-T was placed inside the fairings that make up the rocket’s nose cone at Astrotech’s Titusville facility. Next, the encapsulated satellite traveled to the launch pad at Space Force Station Cape Canaveral.

ULA hoisted the nose cone with its payload atop the rocket on Thursday, and the launch vehicle will make the slow, steady journey from hangar to launch pad over the next few days.

FOX Weather visited the Lockheed Martin cleanroom where GOES-T was built, and the next satellite in the GOES-U series is being tested.

Arleen Knaub, deputy GOES program manager at Lockheed Martin, said the new satellites would provide better image data.

She said the new GOES satellites launched over the past four years have significantly advanced meteorological science.

GOES-T also has a new magnetometer to measure the Earth’s magnetic field, which protects the planet from the solar wind.

“If the Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing or changing, we want to know because the solar wind can then strip Earth’s atmosphere,” Knaub said. “And so that would be very damaging to the Earth in relation to climate change.”

Knaub said discussions are already underway for the next generation of GOES series weather satellites to keep up with improving technology and forecasting.

LINK: Get updates on this story from FOXweather.com

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