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April 8, 2010 / Dave Gorham

New Satellite Ready for Action

“What can $500 million and a NASA Delta IV rocket do for you?” That’s not quite as catchy as the no-longer-used motto from United Parcel Service (“What Can Brown Do For You?”), but it’s certainly more direct — and without that unpleasant aftertaste that lead to the demise of that silly mantra.

$500 million can make the movie Avatar. $500 million can buy Howard Stern. $500 million is what one of Hollywood’s biggest stars had to pay his wife in the divorce settlement.  $500 million would buy two of the proposed new “Marine One” helicopters. $500 million can also put a new weather satellite into space and then transmit high-resolution images back to Earth which will allow forecasters to pinpoint severe weather and other meteorological features with much higher accuracy.

At $241 million each you could buy two VH-71 Kestrels — with $18 million left over for a platoon or two of Marines. Photo:

On March 4, exactly five weeks ago today, a Delta IV rocket boosted the new geostationary satellite GOES 15 (GOES P) to an altitude of approximately 22,000 miles, centered over  90 degrees West Longitude. This is the third spacecraft in the GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) N-P series and, when combined with one other orbiter, will be able to provide imagery of 50% of Earth’s surface.  After a series of checks, the first full-disk image was transmitted to Earth yesterday. Several more months of checks remain before NASA turns the satellite over to NOAA when it will officially stand “on deck,” ready for activation should problems be experienced by either of the other two operational GOES spacecraft.

GOES 11 was launched in May, 2000. Status: Operational.
GOES 12 was launched in July, 2001. Status: Operational.
GOES 13 (GOES-N) was launched in May, 2006. Status: Storage.
GOES 14 (GOES-O) was launched in June, 2009. Status: Storage.
GOES 15 (GOES P) was launched in March, 2010. Status: Systems checking.
GOES-R is expected to launch in 2015.

Delta IV lifts off with GOES 15 payload on March 4. Photo: Carleton Bailie, The Boeing Company.



One Comment

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  1. Dave Gorham / Apr 16 2010 7:04 PM

    GOES 12 just decommissioned, GOES 13 goes active.

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