New GOES-P weather satellite getting prepped for launch

The GOES-P spacecraft is being processed for launch in Florida. I’m rather excited about it since it will sport some new features that will directly enhance weather forecasting and public safety. – Anthony

On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the core stage of a Delta IV rocket arrives at Launch Complex 37. The rocket's core stage is the first stage mated to the second stage. This United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket is slated to launch GOES-P developed by NASA for NOAA. Credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

From a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center press release:

During the first three weeks in January, the latest in the series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites also known as GOES-P is being processed and prepped for launch. Meanwhile, the first and second stages of the Delta IV rocket that will carry it into orbit, are being assembled on the launch pad.

The GOES-P spacecraft is currently being processed at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. Prior to the holiday break the Payload Attached Fitting (PAF) fit check was successfully completed on December 18, 2009. Functional testing on the spacecraft bus (the satellite) was successfully completed on December 22, 2009.

Over the last couple of weeks, the GOES-P spacecraft team commenced with instrument testing and cleaning on the Solar X-Ray Imager and the Imager and Sounder. Testing has completed on schedule and performance is as expected.

The first and second stage of the Delta IV rocket were mated in the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Horizontal Integrating Facility on Jan.6. Following the vehicle mate the rocket was transported to the launch pad (Pad 37B) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 13th. The vehicle was successfully erected and stands ready for further processing and testing. The smaller solid rocket boosters are expected to be transported to the pad and integrated on January 14-15.

Andre’ Dress, GOES N-P Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. said, “Our team has made incredible strides in the past few weeks. Just coming off the successful launch and check out of GOES O, everyone is ready to go again and we are anxious to see GOES P added to the NOAA constellation.”

click for a large image

More info:

GOES – NO/P is the next series of GOES satellites. The multimission GOES series N-P will be a vital contributor to weather, solar, and space operations and science. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program to expand the existing GOES system with the launch of the GOES N-P satellites.

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is responsible for procuring, developing, and testing the spacecraft, instruments and unique ground equipment. NOAA is responsible for overall program, funding, system in-orbit operation, and determining satellite replacement needs.

The GOES N-P series will aid activities ranging from severe storm warnings to resource management and advances in science. GOES N-P data will add to the global community of knowledge, embracing many civil and government environmental forecasting organizations that work to benefit people everywhere and help save lives.

GOES N-P represents the next generation of GOES satellites. A highly advanced attitude control system fosters enhanced instrument performance for improved weather service quality. NASA and NOAA have set a high standard of accuracy for GOES N-P, including data pixel location to two kilometers from geosynchronous orbit.

Some of the new top-level capabilities include:

  • A digital Low Rate Information Transmission (LRIT) formatted Weather Facsimile (WEFAX) service
  • Expanded measurements for the Space Environment Monitor (SEM) instruments
  • A new dedicated channel for the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network (EMWIN) service
  • A more stable platform for supporting improved Imager, Sounder, and SXI instruments

GOES-N, the first spacecraft in the new GOES-N/O/P series, lifted off aboard a Boeing Delta IV rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. at 6:11 pm EDT on May 24, 2006.

+ Read more

GOES-O launched on June 27, 2009 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. GOES-O has now been renamed, GOES-14 and its solar array has been deployed.

+ Read more

GOES N,O,P Enhancement Summary

  • GOES N,O,P have an improved Image Navigation and Registration (INR) system that uses star trackers to provide precision image navigation and registration information for use with the Imaging and Sounding data products. This improves knowledge of exactly where severe weather events are located.
  • A stable optical bench is provided to isolate thermal deformations of the spacecraft from the Imager and Sounder instruments.
  • A data product improvement is provided with the development of the digital Low Rate Image Information Transmission (LRIT) system for distribution of data Products that were distributed in an analog WEFAX format in the previous generation of GOES-I/M satellites. The LRIT system permits the transmission of data products consistent with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and permits the distribution of more National Weather Service (NWS) information at a higher data rate to the NOAA data user community.
  • The Data Collection System (DCS) is enhanced with the addition of 300 and 1200 bps Data Collection Platforms (DCPs) that use 8-PSK modulation and a higher power satellite transponder so that more DCPs can use the link at the same time.
  • The power subsystem is improved with the use of a single panel solar array that contains high-efficiency dual-junction gallium-arsenide solar cells. A nickel-hydrogen battery is provided to permit the satellites to operate during the eclipse periods.
  • A new Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI) developed by the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center permits the observation and collection of solar data products.
  • A dedicated transponder is provided to support the Emergency Manager’s Weather Information Network (EMWIN) data product service.
  • The Satellite design life time has improved from 7 to 10 years, and the expected propellant lifetime has increased to 13.5 years.
  • The GOES-N,O,P command data rate increased to 2,000 bps, as compared to a data rate of 250 bps for the previous generation of GOES-I/M satellites.
  • The GOES-N,O,P telemetry data rate improved to provide data at either 4,000 or 1,000 bps, as compared to the 2,000 bps data rate on the previous generation of GOES-I/M satellites.
  • An optional operational “yaw flip” capability and procedure was developed on the GOES-N,O,P Program to permit optimum performance of the Imager and Sounder radiation coolers. The procedure permits operation of the Imager and Sounder detectors at a lower temperature and results in lower noise performance of the instruments.
  • The Space Environment Monitoring (SEM) subsystem is enhanced by the addition of the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) sensor, Energetic Proton, Electron, and Alpha particle Detector (EPEAD), the Magnetospheric Electron Detector(MAGED), the Magnetospheric Proton Detector (MAGPD) and dual magnetometers on a 27.9 foot (8.5 meter) long boom. The Energetic Particle Sensors are improved on GOES-N,O,P to provide coverage over an extended energy range and with improved directional accuracy.
  • The communications services are tailored to comply with modern national and international requirements.
  • Potential reduction in striping in the image is achieved due to increasing the Imager’s scan-mirror dwell time during the blackbody calibration process from 0.2 seconds to 2 seconds.
  • Health and safety concerns related to scanning operations during eclipse periods have been removed because thermal shields have been added to the secondary mirror structure elements for the Imager and Sounder instruments.
  • There will be no GOES-I/M era “boom snap” problem on the GOES-N,O,P satellites since the effect was due to the shadow of the magnetometer boom crossing the solar sail boom and a solar sail boom is not used with the GOES-N,O,P satellite design.


Mission Life 10 years Dimensions Length

13.75 ft. (4.2 m)


6.2 ft. (1.88 m) Weight


6908 lbs. (3133 kg.)

In orbit (beginning of life)

3969 lbs. (1800 kg.)

Propulsion Liquid Apogee Motor

110 lbf (490 N)

Stationkeeping Thrusters

75W and 135W Power – Solar Beginning of Life

2.3 kw

End of Life

2 kw


1 wing, w/1 panel of dual-junction gallium arsenide solar cells Payload S-Band

1 downlink, 5 uplinks (include telemetry and command data)


8 downlinks


1 downlink, 2 uplinks Antennas 3 S/L Band, cup-shaped with dipole

2 T&C antennas and 1 Omni antenna (aft)

1 UHF, cup-shaped with dipole Launch Vehicle Delta IV

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Earle Williams
January 19, 2010 10:28 am

A ten year mission life seems short for such a big investment. Anyone know what typical mission life is for civilian satellites?

Jason S
January 19, 2010 10:34 am

Did you get the specs on the algorithms with a bias towards warming?

January 19, 2010 10:36 am

Wow, talk about odd timing. I was just there last week driving by that. I didn’t realize it was a GOES satellite.

January 19, 2010 10:56 am

A tip about NASA.
Up until earlier today they had a page on their website saying
“Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both hemispheres, and may disappear altogether in certain regions of our planet, such as the Himalayas, by 2030”
Now, without comment they have amended it to “Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world ? including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa”
Not only did they get it wrong, they got it very wrong. Then to hide embarrassment they changed their story without any comment at all. No public admission of error, just a simple rewriting of history.
What faith can you have in NASA to be objective if they act in such an unscientific manner and without accountability or responsibility?

January 19, 2010 11:01 am

Ref – Earle Williams (10:28:42) :
“A ten year mission life seems short for such a big investment.”
That’s the planned/designed mission life. The actual usually far excedes the specs (if everything goes well through launch and testing)

Gary Hladik
January 19, 2010 11:04 am

“I’m rather excited about it since it will sport some new features that will directly enhance weather forecasting and public safety.” – Anthony
Especially the fully automated dartboard which will replace the manual one now used by the MET office. 🙂
Sorry, Anthony, couldn’t resist. Here’s hoping its features are put to good use.

John Phillips
January 19, 2010 11:19 am

Earle Williams (10:28:42) :
A ten year mission life seems short for such a big investment. Anyone know what typical mission life is for civilian satellites?
I believe it may be because maintaining the geostationary satellites within the small inclination limit is no longer possible after a satellite has exhausted its fuel. Thats my guess. Is that true someone from NASA or NOAA?

January 19, 2010 11:41 am

And the price tag is?

January 19, 2010 11:54 am

Mike D. (11:41:32) :
“And the price tag is?”
Don’t know, but heard the space shuttle’s main engines are being given away for free, all you have to do is sign up and agree to pay for shipping/handling.

January 19, 2010 12:14 pm

Did Hansen have anything to do with the programming? If so can it be published before we accept any data from it?

January 19, 2010 1:46 pm

I used to follow GOES and POES closely when I received GOES WEFAX and HRPT at home but now I use the internet like most everyone else to get my satellite images. I see many upgrades and it looks like they’ll be able to get images even during the equinox eclipse periods.
I seem to remember that GOES-I (GOES-8) was designed for a 5 year life so that’s been doubled now.

January 19, 2010 2:04 pm

I’m always impressed by the technology incorporated in these devices.
“Health and safety concerns related to scanning operations during eclipse periods have been removed because thermal shields have been added to the secondary mirror structure elements for the Imager and Sounder instruments”
The spaceman who operates the manual focus will be pleased.

January 19, 2010 2:17 pm

Folks, Every now and then click on the ads by google, WUWT gets alittle something. I know it’s a hassle sometimes, but he can use the $$. The ones on this thread are direct tv and dish net.

January 19, 2010 3:14 pm

I wonder what happens when it goes pee in space? 🙂

Pamela Gray
January 19, 2010 6:01 pm

Let’s hope it doesn’t [crash] [mix metric with inches] [orbit decay] [have Hansen code in it] [measure anything calibrated on ground sensors] [depend on “peer review”].
Just covering all the bases.

Dave F
January 19, 2010 7:22 pm

(insert sophomoric joke here)

January 19, 2010 8:31 pm

Does that thing come turbo charged?

January 19, 2010 11:31 pm

Will there be any data for cloud cover?

January 19, 2010 11:33 pm

Searching for “relevant post” to put this at…
Wall Street Journal:
Panel Warns NASA About Outsourcing Risks
JANUARY 19, 2010, 8:45 P.M. ET
A key U.S. federal aerospace panel warned that NASA could run into serious safety challenges if it relies on private companies to ferry astronauts into space in the near future.
The Obama administration has been devising a plan to outsource a chunk of its manned space program to private companies in order to speed up rocket development, save money and focus federal dollars on longer-term expeditions. But a report released last week by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, an outside safety watchdog for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, cautioned that the private space companies rely on “unsubstantiated claims” about safety and need to overcome major technical hurdles before they can safely carry astronauts into orbit.
The report urged NASA to stick with its current government-run manned space ventures, and said that switching to private alternatives now would be “unwise and probably not cost-effective.”

Richard Branson may not be pleased by this.

January 20, 2010 12:32 am

It’s a shame that this bird isn’t flying now:-
“A new Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI) developed by the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center permits the observation and collection of solar data products.”
Would have been grat to see the sun come out of it’s slumber in high res.

January 20, 2010 8:27 am

Who can rely on any climate data delivered by NASA??
I just realized that I lost all confidence of NASA.Mr Hansen is obviously an unserious aktivist.Its sad becuase I really admired the work of NASA earlier.
obvioulsy any organisation can be hijacked by extremists I would expekt NASA to be the last one.The way they try to cover up thier misstakes sends strong signals of lack of common values.
It can take a moonlanding to earn the confidence and trust.And just one single corrupted scientist to ruin it.

January 20, 2010 11:19 am

Earle Williams (10:28:42) :
A ten year mission life seems short for such a big investment. Anyone know what typical mission life is for civilian satellites?
From my experience working at NASA Johnson Space Center about 15 years ago, 10 years is a reasonable lifetime for a geostationary sat. As stated in the specs, propellant lifetime is 13.5 years. In addition, the solar array’s output will deteriorate over time, cosmic rays can damage the electronics, heating/cooling when moving in/out of sunlight tends to wear things out, etc. Space is not a friendly place for electronics.

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