The GOES-T Weather Satellite, the most sophisticated weather satellite to be launched yet by the United States, is due to lift-off from the Florida space coast this afternoon during a 2-hour launch window that opens at 4:38pm ET. According to NASA, mission forecasters say weather should be 80% favorable for a launch.
GOES-T is the third spacecraft in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES)-R Series, which NOAA officials describe as “the Western Hemisphere’s most sophisticated weather-observing and environmental-monitoring system.” After the GOES-T gets to space, it will be re-named GOES-18 as it achieves its geostationary orbit about 22,300 miles above the Earth’s surface. After testing systems on the satellite, it will eventually become operational as GOES-West and cover the central and eastern Pacific including all of Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.
The GOES-T / GOES-18 will replace GOES-S / GOES-17 that is currently tackling the position of GOES-West. The previous weather satellite has suffered from a malfunctioning imager that’s unable to properly cool when hit by sunlight. When GOES-T arrives in space and eventually becomes functional and operational as GOES-West, the malfunctioning satellite would be put into “space storage” where it could become activated as a back-up should there be a failure of another weather satellite.
The first of the GOES-R series to be launched is operating as GOES-East; it is responsible for imagery and data over much of the continental United States and the eastern Atlantic Ocean.