GOES-U Launched!

The fourth and final National Oceanography and Atmospheric Administrations (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) satellite was launched on Tuesday at 5:26 p.m. Eastern Time from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This satellite will become part of a mission that is a critical component of the United States’ weather forecasting and environmental monitoring capabilities. The Satellite is known as GOES-U until it reaches geostationary orbit then it will be renamed GOES-19 and replace GOES-16 as the GOES East monitor. This satellite includes the nation’s first operational coronagraph, the Compact Coronagraph-1 (CCOR-1), which will provide nearly constant monitoring of the sun and coronal mass ejections, crucial for preventing damage to satellites and power grids.

The new coronagraph can issue solar alerts in 30 minutes, significantly faster than the older Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). This satellite is a part of the GOES-R series which began with the launch of GOES-16 in 2016. These satellites have substantially enhanced weather forecasting, fire detection, and storm monitoring for the Americas.

The satellite was launched using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy, marking the first NOAA mission and the second NASA mission for this rocket. This heavy-lift launch will extend the satellite’s mission life from 15 to over 20 years. The GOES mission revolutionized weather forecasting and environmental monitoring, providing essential data for meteorologists, emergency responders, and scientists. The continuous improvements in satellite technology and instrumentation ensures the GOES mission will continue to enhance our understanding of weather and environmental phenomena, contributing to public safety and scientific knowledge.

Weather data is extremely important for the inhabitants of earth and the operation of the satellites in orbit and maintaining the integrity of this data when being transmitted is also extremely important. The commandeering of the constellation would severely degrade the US’s ability to predict the terrestrial weather as well as prepare us for any oncoming solar storms. Mother Nature always get a say in everything we do. When a weather system approaches giving society ample time to prepare is key. Delaying the data flow or denying it entirely can increase the damage done tremendously, increase the amount of lives lost, and the increase the amount of money needed to recover.  Finally, this CCOR-1 is the first operational coronagraph being deployed. This system is untested and could result in vulnerabilities that have not been discovered yet that could open the satellite up to a degradation of the integrity of the data it transmits. Continually, monitoring and patching will be key in maintaining this integrity.