USA – A satellite scheduled for launch from Florida this week could give firefighters a new tool to fight the wildfires on the West Coast.
A two-hour window for the launch of the GOES-S satellite, which will be known as GOES-17 once in orbit, is set to open at 5:02 p.m. today.
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket will launch the instrument from Space Launch Complex 41 — which first roared to life in December of 1965 for the launch of a Titan IIIC rocket for the U.S. Air Force.
The satellite systems, built by Melbourne-based Harris Corporation and expected to be operational within six months, will provide highly detailed weather maps and data for California and other areas of the western U.S. The satellite uses a sophisticated system of sensors, monitors and other hardware that gather that information.
“It’s a significant improvement,” said Eric Webster, Harris’ general manager of environmental solutions. “They will have detailed, tactical information about a fire and where it’s likely to go based on winds and intensity.”
The satellite will upgrade data related to wind patterns, high-definition imagery and other forecast tools, giving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration more powerful tools.
The satellite will continue an upgrade the NOAA started in 2016 with the launch of GOES-R from Florida in September 2016.
Once in orbit, GOES-R became GOES-16 and started to monitor a large segment of the U.S. as officials tested the hardware.
The satellite has since shifted its coverage area to the East Coast.
“Having one on each coast means you can see from Hawaii all the way to Africa between two satellites,” Webster said.
ULA came about through a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Based in the Denver area, ULA says it has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of the solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.