NOAA’s GOES-T ‘Starting to Come Together’

NOAA's GOES-T satellite
NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) is in view alongside its banner inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida, on Jan. 20, 2022. GOES-T is targeted to launch on March 1, 2022,  from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

An activity completed at Astrotech’s Space Operations facility in Titusville today brings NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite T (GOES-T) mission one significant step closer to its March 1, 2022, liftoff from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida in just over a month.

On Jan. 27, 2022, the spacecraft was lifted and mated to the payload adapter – a piece of hardware that interfaces mechanically between the rocket and the spacecraft. The payload adapter also has the capability built into it to allow the spacecraft to separate from the rocket when it gets on orbit.

“It is the start of integrated operations, which is now the satellite and the rocket are starting to come together,” said GOES-T Mission Manager Rex Engelhardt. “We’ve been doing a lot of analysis, but this is the first piece of rocket hardware that we’re putting together with the satellite.”

Next week, the first stage of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket for GOES-T will be erected. ULA also will be cleaning each half of the payload fairing during this timeframe. Upcoming important February activities include encapsulation, where the two pieces of the payload fairing come together to secure the satellite inside, hoist to the transporter, and transport and mate to the launch vehicle. GOES-T is targeted to roll to the launch pad on Feb. 28.

The third satellite in NOAA’s GOES-R series, GOES-T’s launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, America’s multi-user spaceport. The GOES satellite network helps meteorologists observe and predict local weather events that affect public safety, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods, and other severe weather. GOES-T will provide critical data for the U.S. West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Pacific Ocean.

NOAA’s GOES-T Launch Update

Artist's rendering of GOES-R, NASA
Credit: NASA/Artist’s rendering of GOES-R

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are now targeting Feb. 16, 2022, for the launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite T (GOES-T) mission. The launch was previously planned for Jan. 8, 2022. NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) coordinated the new target date to optimize launch schedules for missions flying from Space Launch Complex-41.

GOES-T will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket. The two-hour launch window will open at 4:40 p.m. EST. This launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center.

GOES-T is the third satellite in the GOES-R Series, which will extend NOAA’s operational geostationary satellite observations through 2036. The GOES satellite network helps meteorologists observe and predict local weather events, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods and other severe weather.

NOAA manages the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office, administering the ground system contract, operating the satellites, and distributing their data to users worldwide. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center oversees the acquisition of the GOES-R spacecraft and instruments. Lockheed Martin designs, creates, and tests the GOES-R Series satellites. L3Harris Technologies provides the main instrument payload, the Advanced Baseline Imager, along with the ground system, which includes the antenna system for data reception.

Looking forward, NOAA is working with NASA on the next-generation geostationary satellite mission called Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO), which will bring new capabilities in support of U.S. weather, ocean, and climate operations in the 2030s.  NASA will manage the development of the GeoXO satellites and launch them for NOAA.