Launch News Atlas V GOES-S Mission (March 1, 2018, 22:02-00:02 UTC) AV-077

Nicholas Kang

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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the GOES-S weather satellite for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the second in an upgraded generation of Geostationary Meteorological Satellites, delivering critical data for weather now- and forecasting. Built by Lockheed Martin, the 5,200-Kilogram satellite hosts the Advanced Baseline Imager capturing 16-channel imaging and atmospheric sounding data, a Lightning Mapper, space environment sensors and solar instruments – delivering all necessary parameters for terrestrial and space weather assessments. Two active GOES satellites are required for coverage of the entire contiguous United States and the Atlantic and Pacific Regions of interest for U.S. weather forecasting.

GOES-S is the second of four satellites to be launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a new and advanced series of spacecraft. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-17. Like the other satellites in the series, GOES-S carries a suite of sophisticated Earth-sensing, lightning-detecting, solar imaging and space weather monitoring instruments. The advanced technology on board GOES-S will provide critical data and imagery in near-real time on severe weather events such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and flash floods, as well as hazards like fog, aerosols, dust storms, volcanic eruptions and forest fires.

ULA and their heritage rockets have launched all of the operational GOES satellites, including GOES-R in November 2016. GOES-S marks the sixth Atlas V to launch in the 541 configuration, the first of which was the rocket that launched NASA's Curiosity rover to Mars in 2011.

Launch date:​
March 1, 2018​
Launch Window Opens:​
22:02 UTC/5:02 p.m. EST​
Launch Window Closes:​
00:02 UTC/7:02 p.m. EST​
Launch site:​
|SLC-41 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

[highlight]L[eventtimer]2018-03-01 22:02:00;%c%%ddd%/%hh%:%mm%:%ss%[/eventtimer][/highlight]​

Mission Patch​
Atlas V GOES-S Mission Artwork by United Launch Alliance , on Flickr

Launch coverage: (Tune in live on March 1 beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST for ULA webcast)


GOES-R, S, T & U represent the fourth generation of geostationary weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in a collaborative effort with NASA. The satellites are considered the most powerful meteorological spacecraft ever built and host a newly defined sensor complement offering superior data acquisition time and quality for enhanced monitoring of weather across the American continent.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced in December 2008 it has selected Lockheed Martin for award of a contract to build the next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series, known as GOES-R, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The basic contract is for two spacecraft (GOES R and GOES S). Two options each provide for one additional spacecraft (GOES T and GOES U). The total estimated value of the basic contract including options is $1.09 billion.

Lockheed Martin's GOES-R solution builds upon the renowned A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft bus and proven precision imaging capabilities from previous remote sensing programs.

The Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) will provide key performance parameters cloud and moisture imagery for Full Disk, Continental United States (CONUS), and Mesoscale coverage for monitoring, forecasting and severe weather warning. Additional instruments include Space Environment In-Situ Suite (SEISS), Extreme Ultraviolet Sensor/X-Ray Sensor Irradiance Sensors (EXIS), Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI), Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM), and Magnetometer (MAG). The instruments will be provided to the Space Segment A&O contractor as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) for integration into the spacecraft.

The Lockheed Martin GOES-R program office will be located at its Space Systems Company facilities in Newtown, Pa. While substantial engineering and production effort will be conducted in Newtown, the program will also leverage Space Systems Company capabilities across the country including Denver, Colo. and Sunnyvale, Calif.

The options for GOES T and GOES U were exercised in May 2013 for launches in 2019 and 2024 respectively.


Type / Application:|
  • Meteorology

  • NOAA

  • Lockheed Martin

  • Imager
  • Sounder
  • Solar X-ray imager
  • S-band, L-band, UHF communication channels

  • LEROS-1C

  • Deployable solar array
  • Batteries

  • 15 years (10 operational, after 5 years on-orbit spare)

  • 5192 kg (launch); 2857 kg (dry)

  • GEO

For more more info about the satellite's radar, bus configuration and on-board instruments, please kindly visit here.

Short videos about GOES-S by NASA KSC:

Launch Vehicle:

The Atlas V 541 Launch Vehicle is a part of the flight proven Atlas V 400/500 family that is being operated by United Launch Alliance. Atlas V rockets are flown since 2002 and have a near-perfect success rate (one flight was a partial failure, however the mission was catalogued as a success).

Atlas V 541 features four Solid Rocket Boosters installed on a Common Core Booster with a common single engine Centaur on top and a 5.4-meter Payload Fairing. Centaur can make multiple burns to deliver payloads to a variety of orbits including Low and Medium Earth Orbit, Geostationary Transfer Orbit and Geostationary Orbit as well as Earth Escape Trajectories.

Notable launches made by the Atlas V 541 version include the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft in 2011.

Every Atlas V version has a three digit ID-Number:
First Digit: Payload Fairing diameter: 4XX – 4m Diameter; 5XX – 5.4m Diameter
Second Digit: Number of Solid Rocket Boosters (0-5)
Third Digit: Number of RL-10A Engines on Centaur (1 or 2)


Atlas V 541 stands 62.2 meters tall and has a main diameter of 3.81 meters.

With a liftoff mass of 540,300 Kilograms, it is the second heaviest of the SEC (Single Engine Centaur) Atlas V Fleet as the 541 version features four Solid Rocket Boosters.

The Launcher uses the conventional Atlas V design with a Common Core Booster and a Centaur Upper Stage on top of it.

Atlas V 541 features a 5.4-meter payload Fairing under which it can carry payloads of up to 17,443 Kilograms to Low Earth Orbit.

Geostationary Transfer Orbit Capability is 8,290 Kilograms. Direct GEO Injections of Payloads up to 3,730kg are also possible.


  • 62.2 m

  • 3.81m

Launch Mass:|
  • 540,300kg

Stage 1:|
  • Atlas Common Core Booster

  • 4

  • 6.9 m

Stage 2:|
  • Centaur

Mass to LEO:|
  • 17,443 kg

Mass to SSO:|
  • 13,360 kg

Mass to GTO:|
  • 8,290 kg

Mass to GEO:|
  • 3,730 kg

L-1 Launch Weather forecast by Patrick Air Force Base

Launch day overall probability of violating weather constraints: 20%
Primary concern(s): Cumulus Clouds, Ground Winds

24-hour delay overall probability of violating weather constraints 20%
Primary concern(s): Cumulus Clouds

Weather: Isolated Showers
Visibility: 7 miles
Solar Activity: Low
Wind: 250° @ 22-26 KT (230’)
Pressure: 29.94 INS
Temperature: 77° - 80° F
Relative Humidity: 65%

NOTE: Latest weather forecast available here.

Go Atlas! Go Centaur! Go GOES-S!

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Seriously, no one posted this gloriousness???


Courtesy of

You know, I've read plenty of explanations about it, but I still find it amazing that somebody can photograph that super bright exhaust plume and still get decent exposure on the much darker background like that.

Nicholas Kang

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We got some problems with this one.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the cooling system of the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) on the GOES-17 weather satellite did not startup as planned during on-orbit checkout a few weeks ago. The satellite, previously known as GOES-S, launched on an Atlas 5 March 1.

The cooling system is needed to keep ABI’s detectors at an operating temperature of 60 kelvin. That system is not working sufficiently for 13 of the instrument’s 16 bands, at infrared and near-infrared wavelengths, during part of each orbit. Three other bands, which operate at visible wavelengths, are not affected by the cooling issue. Other instruments on the spacecraft are also not impaired.

Source: NOAA,, ArsTechnica