December 30th, 2009
NASA | NOAA GOES-P Enters Post Storage Testing Phase
Once in geosynchronous orbit, GOES-P will be designated GOES-15and NASA will provide on-orbit checkout and then transfer operational responsibility to NOAA. GOES-P will be placed in on-orbit storage as a replacement for an older GOES satellite. After arriving, the satellite was transported to Astrotech in Titusville, Florida, where final testing of the imaging system, instrumentation, communications and power systems will be performed. These tests will take approximately six weeks to complete. Then the spacecraft will be fueled with the propellant necessary for orbit maneuvers and the attitude control system. When the fueling is completed, the spacecraft is encapsulated in the Delta IV nose fairing and prepared for transport to the launch pad.
GOES-P is the third and last spacecraft to be launched in the GOES N-P series of geostationary environmental weather satellites. The GOES satellites continuously provide observations of 60 percent of the Earth including the continental United States, providing weather monitoring and forecast operations, as well as a continuous and reliable stream of environmental information and severe weather warnings. GOES-P carries an advanced attitude control system using star trackers and Hemispherical Inertial Reference Units. The imager and sounder instruments are mounted on a stable optical bench, which provides enhanced instrument pointing performance for improved image navigation and registration. This means better location of severe storms and other events important to the NOAA National Weather Service. The Imager on GOES-P, as on the GOES-O before it, has improved resolution from previous GOES missions in the 13 micron channel from 8 km to 4 km. The finer spatial resolution allows improved estimates of horizontal distribution of cloud-top, height of atmospheric motion vectors, and volcanic ash detection. Similarly to the GOES-O mission, the GOES-P image navigation accuracy of about 2 km from an orbit altitude of about 22,300 miles, or 35,700 km, is superior compared to the previous series of GOES satellites. GOES-P only differs from GOES-O in the channel configuration for the solar Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) telescope. The EUV will be the same 5 channel configuration that flew on GOES-N/13.
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV expendable launch vehicle will be erected in early January at Space Launch Complex 37-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes operational environmental satellite data for the United States. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, procures and manages the development and launch of the satellites for NOAA on a cost-reimbursable basis. United Launch Alliance will conduct the commercial launch with a Federal Aviation Administration launch license. They will also oversee launch service duties that include oversight of the launch vehicle processing activities, integration of the GOES-P spacecraft with the Delta IV rocket, and the launch countdown activities.