CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The next generation of weather satellite images are set to depart Tuesday for space.
The GOES-T satellite will be the third satellite launched in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) – R Series. The latest satellite will help present the Earth in a new high definition look while providing atmospheric measurements, real-time lightning mapping, and helps monitor space weather.
One of the key features of the new GOES-T satellite is its support for tracking and identifying wildfires in the west. It will be a key tool that will help local meteorologists track smoke from wildfires, a leading cause of reduced air quality in Minnesota and Iowa during the summer.
The new satellite will replace the old GOES-17 satellite, otherwise known as GOES West. The new satellite will assume the same responsibilities as GOES-17 by monitoring the western contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Pacific Ocean. The new GOES-T will be called GOES-18.
The GOES-T satellite will be carried on the powerful Atlas V rocket, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, but now operated by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a partnership between Lockheed and Boeing.
Launch will present some challenges as cumulus clouds and chance of precipitation within range have reduced launch probabilities to a low 40%. This was reported in the latest launch forecast from the 45th Weather Squadron stationed at Patrick Space Force Base on the Florida Space Coast.
In the event of a clean launch, a backup date will be set 24 hours later. Unfortunately, the backup date forecast is 30% lower with similar challenges for range operations.
The two-hour launch window for the Atlas V carrying GOES-T opens at 4:38 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 1.