Pam Sullivan, the GOES-R mission director, confirms that the GOES-R completed its solar array deployment for tonight and the spacecraft. The satellite is flying through space in a transfer orbit that it will eventually circularize on its own. The deployment completes the launch of the GOES-R satellite.
There will be about five months of orbit checkouts before the spacecraft becomes operational, Sullivan said. You can read our account of tonight’s launch here: http://go.nasa.gov/2grmtXs
With GOES-R orbiting Earth on its own and its systems in good health, our coverage of today’s countdown, launch and ascent into space will conclude. One more extra is this short look at the GOES launching history of NASA’s Launch Services Program which has been working with NOAA for 16 years to give their spacecraft a safe flight into orbit.
Spacecraft sep! Cheers and applause erupt from the launch teams as the GOES-R spacecraft separates from the Centaur upper stage to fly freely for the first time! Next up, solar array deployment. GOES-R is in a transfer orbit of 19,000 miles by 4,400 miles. It will circularize that orbit to more than 22,000 miles above Earth to be in a position to watch the western hemisphere with the most advanced instruments of their kind.
The Centaur stage is firing its small thrusters to position itself and its GOES-R payload into the proper position to fire its main engine for the final time during this mission. Everything remains on schedule for the flight.
Two hours and 29 minutes after lifting off from Florida, the GOES-R spacecraft and Centaur upper stage are performing as planned as they orbit high above Earth. There is less than one hour to go in this final coast phase before the Centaur ignites its RL10 engine one more time to place the GOES-R satellite in its transfer orbit. The transfer orbit will be circularized by the spacecraft itself until it is in an operational orbit more than 22,000 miles above Earth. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Noted television meteorologist Al Roker attended today’s launch of the GOES-R spacecraft and talked with NASA TV earlier. His interest in the mission, he said, comes from the fact that the satellite will give forecasters much more information to help them with their predictions. GOES-R carries sensors that are much more advanced than previous GOES satellites. The result, Roker said, will be akin to going from black and white television programming to High Definition in one leap. Photos by NASA/Kim Shiflett
As for the GOES-R spacecraft itself, it is coasting through space right now with the Centaur upper stage still attached. All systems are performing well. The Centaur will burn its single engine one more time beginning at 10:09 p.m. EST to put the GOES-R spacecraft into a transfer orbit. The spacecraft will use its own propellant to circularize its orbit more than 22,000 miles on space. From there, it will become operational.