NOAA to replace GOES17 satellite with GOES T ahead of schedule

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced plans on June 25, 2021, to move its geostationary weather satellite, which is scheduled to launch in December, into an operational role “as soon as possible.” 

GOES T Flight logo from goesr.gov

This advances the previous GOES-T flyout and operational status schedule by a whopping 4 years. No word as of yet for GOES 17’s fate. It is assumed that it could be placed in on-orbit storage in a “central” location in geostationary orbit and called into service as needed as a backup, like GOES-15, or during complex weather conditions like hurricane and tropical storms seasons.

NOAA’s GOES-T will replace GOES-17 as the new satellite in the GOES-West position, following its scheduled liftoff (which is scheduled for December 7th, 2021) from Cape Canaveral, Fla., top NOAA officials announced June 24th, in an announcement posted on the NOAA- National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) website.

The decision to place GOES-T  into operational service as soon as possible after launch is a result of the blockage in the loop heat pipe of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), the key instrument on GOES-17.  The LHP issue was overcome by engineers, and GOES-17 was able to deliver 98% of it’s intended data.

GOES-T, which is the third satellite in NOAA’s advanced GOES-R series, will be renamed GOES-18 following a successful two-week post-launch checkout phase. Once operational and in service, it will work in tandem with GOES-16, which operates in the GOES East position. 

GOES-T completed critical testing in March of 2021 and is slated for launch on December 7th, 2021.

Launch time: 2140 GMT (4:40 p.m. EST)
Launch site:
 SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch GOES-T, the third next-generation geostationary weather satellite for NASA and NOAA. GOES-T will orbit 22,300 miles above the equator to monitor weather conditions across the United States. The rocket will fly in the 541 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, four solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.


EXAMPLE OF POSSIBLE NEW FLYOUT SCHEDULE BASED ON NEW OPERATIONS INFORMATION
NOTE THAT THE FIRST GEO-XO1 LAUNCH IS SCHEDULED FOR 2032, AND WILL PROVIDE CONTINUITY FOR GEO OBSERVATIONS.

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