Part 2 of powerful NOAA weather satellite fleet readies for launch

GOES-S set for March liftoff

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TITUSVILLE, Fla. – The advanced technology weather satellite that has been sending back incredible forecasting images of Earth's weather events since its launch will be getting help from a twin satellite set for liftoff in March.

GOES-S, which stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, will be known as GOES-17 once it reaches orbit. GOES-R, now GOES-16, launched from Cape Canaveral more than a year ago.

The 11,000-pound National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration satellite is slated for liftoff March 1, when it will catch a ride on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

GOES-S is currently being processed at Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, where it will be tested and prepped for launch. News 6 reporter James Sparvero got a behind-the-scenes look Tuesday at the satellite.

The $10 billion program will help improve weather forecasting of incoming weather hazards. The satellite series consists of four spacecraft, GOES-R, GOES-S, GOES-T and GOES-U. Post-launch, they are associated with a number, 16 through 19. The series is an advance upgrade and replacement for the current GOES fleet, with four times the image resolution, five times the speed and more reliable predictions than its predecessors.

"It's really been a game-changer for the amount of data and some of the resolution, the imaging that you're seeing when it comes to weather forecasting and accuracy," Chris Reith, of Harris Corporation, said.

GOES-R series system program director Tim Walsh said GOES-16 has already been revolutionary in forecasting. The satellite can see lightning in the eye of a hurricane, including Hurricane Irma in September.

"It's revolutionary in nature to what we're currently flying," Walsh said. "We can look at the full disk Earth in about five minutes. We are seeing a whole bunch of exciting new products and I think we're just starting to scratch the surface."

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