Thursday, March 04, 2010

Delta IV launches GOES-P weather satellite

A ULA Delta IV launches tonight with the GOES-P (KSC)

(Updated at 11:20 pm) -- A next generation weather satellite was carried into space today to begin a decade long mission to study both the weather in the America's and in the vacuum of space.

The GOES-P high resolution weather satellite arrived successfully in orbit following a beautiful night launch.

The satellite will begin to photograph and study the weather for North America, and have an eye trained back at the Sun as it understands the effects of solar activity here on earth.

GOES-P will also serve to help locate and track distress signals from boaters and aircraft. The signals will give the Coast Guard a more accurate location to quicken the emergency response time.

Lift-off of a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket occurred following a 40 minute delay tonight at 6:57:00 pm EST (2357 GMT), from launch pad 37 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

As the countdown was in a normal planned hold at T-5 minutes, several alarms lite the launch team's consoles. Those alarms then forced a delay in restarting the count.

That delay then saw the upper level winds go red, meaning that the wind's speeds of nearly 160 mph were to fast to allow the Delta to fly through up at the Jet Stream.

Residents along Florida's Atlantic coastline were able to enjoy an early evening launch as the flames of two rocket boosters and a main core engine carried the rocket due east on a 95 degree launch azimuth.

The 4800-pound spacecraft measures nearly 27 feet in length -- from solar panel to solar panel -- as it operates in a geostationary orbit of 22,300 miles above.

The Boeing 601 GOES-P spacecraft was then released on it's own at 11:18:26 pm tonight, as it soared 17,813 nautical miles over southern Singapore.

Tonight, the NOAA Satellite and Information Service said, "We should have
the first image around April 1".

The next NOAA weather satellite will be the GOES-R, now planned for launch no earlier than 2015.

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