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Thu, May 25, 2006

One Year Later, GOES-N Launch Goes Off Without A Hitch

After a series of delays bumped its launch date by over a year, on Wednesday the Geostationary Operational Environmental-N satellite (GOES-N) lifted off aboard a Boeing Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. The rocket lifted off its pad at Launch Complex 37 at 6:11 pm EDT.

GOES-N is the latest in a series of Earth monitoring satellites. Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) provide the kind of continuous monitoring necessary for intensive data analysis. Geostationary describes an orbit in which a satellite is always in the same position with respect to the rotating Earth.

This allows GOES to hover continuously over one position on the Earth's surface, appearing stationary. As a result, GOES provide a constant vigil for the atmospheric "triggers" for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms, and hurricanes.

NASA reports the multimission GOES series N-P is the next series of satellites. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science. 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.

Originally scheduled to launch last May, the GOES-N mission was delayed due to various technical issues with the satellite and its rocket. Winds at the tail end of Hurricane Wilma in 2005 also conspired to delay the mission, as did a machinist's strike at Boeing.

After GOES-N reaches its geosynchronous orbit of approximately 22,300 miles and a successful post-launch checkout is performed, the satellite will be placed in an on-orbit storage mode where it will be able to more rapidly replace a failure of any existing operational GOES. 



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