GOES-U on track for April Launch

UPDATE May 3, 2023

GOES-U Completes Solar Array Deployment Test

This critical test verified that the satellite’s large, five-panel solar array — which is folded up when the satellite is launched — will properly deploy when GOES-U reaches geostationary orbit. During this test, engineers unfurled the five panels on rails that simulated the zero-gravity environment of space. Each solar panel is approximately 13 feet tall by 4.5 feet wide and weighs approximately 45 pounds. Once GOES-U reaches orbit, the deployed solar panels will form a single solar array wing that will rotate once per day to continuously point its photovoltaic (solar) cells toward the sun. 

The solar array was developed and built by Lockheed Martin at its Sunnyvale, California, facility and tested at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Littleton, Colorado, where GOES-U was assembled. GOES-U is scheduled to launch in April 2024.

NOAA considers putting GOES-U into service sooner than planned

April 18, 2023

Solar Storms, Coronal Mass Ejections, and satellites soon facing the end of service is why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are considering revising the schedule for its GOES geostationary weather satellite fleet.

NOAA officials are discussing the possibility of moving the final satellite in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R series, GOES-U, into operations soon after it launches to provide imagery and data from the Compact Coronagraph.

“Nothing has been decided yet, but the main motivation for putting GOES-U into operation is the Compact Chronograph, a new space weather instrument we’ll be carrying,” said Pam Sullivan. “Folks are anxious to have that data.”

If NOAA decides not to make any changes, GOES-U would remain as an on-orbit spare until 2031, because NOAA would continue to rely on GOES-18, the current GOES-West satellite launched in 2022, and GOES-16, the current GOES-East launched in 2016. 

What is CCOR-1?

GOES-U satellite will accommodate an additional space weather instrument, the Naval Research Laboratory’s Compact Coronagraph-1 (CCOR-1). CCOR-1 will reside on GOES-U’s Solar Pointing Platform, along with the Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) and Extreme Ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors (EXIS). GOES-16,17 and 18 do not carry the CCOR. The Compact Coronagraph is designed to provide imagery of the solar corona in addition to detecting and characterizing coronal mass ejections.

The Naval Research Laboratory’s Compact Coronagraph-1 (CCOR-1


The GOES-U Compact Coronagraph (CCOR) will image the solar corona (the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere) and help detect and characterize coronal mass ejections (CMEs). CCOR’s primary data product is coronal white light intensity from which NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) can perform CME characterization. Higher-level data products include CME velocity, direction, and mass. SWPC will use these products to predict geomagnetic storm conditions at least one day in advance.

Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) image of the upper solar corona, extending out to 13 million miles away from the sun, showing the eruption of a coronal mass ejection on February 27, 2000. The GOES-U CCOR data products will be similar.

CCOR will deliver imagery within 30 minutes of acquisition, compared to up to 8 hours from LASCO. CCOR will capture at least two images of each CME and will be capable of operating during intense solar storms and flares. The addition of CCOR to GOES-19 will enhance NOAA’s space weather observational capabilities and improve forecasts.

Demand for Compact Coronagraph imagery is strong because U.S. and European space-weather satellites are not expected to last much longer. The joint NASA and European Space Agency Solar and Heliophysics Observatory (SOHO), sent to Lagrange Point 1 since 1995, is likely to stop providing imagery of coronal mass ejections by 2025. And NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), sent to Earth-Sun Lagrange Point 1 in 1997, is expected to run out of propellant around 2024.

Additional Compact Coronagraphs will fly on the NASA-NOAA Space Weather Follow-On and on the European Space Agency space weather program L5 Vigil mission.

Although the GOES-U launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is more than a year away, NOAA has completed instrument integration and thermal and vacuum testing.

“We are on track for the launch in April 2024,” Sullivan said.

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Falcon Heavy For GOES U

GOES-U, the fourth and final satellite in NOAA’s GOES-R Series, recently completed acoustics testing as part of a rigorous testing program to ensure it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch and orbiting in space 22,236 miles above Earth.

During acoustic testing, GOES-U endured extremely high sound pressure of 138.4 decibels from high-intensity horns. This testing simulated the noises GOES-U will experience when it is launched.

The testing was conducted at Lockheed Martin Space’s Littleton, Colorado, facility, where GOES-U was built.