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Launch of Colorado-built satellite a game-changer for weather forecasting

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The weather forecast is about to get better thanks to new satellites being built in Colorado.

The GOES-R weather satellite was scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday afternoon. But a problem with the vehicle forced a hold in the countdown. Once that was resolved, another issue down range forced the hold to continue.

But an Atlas V rocket did launch and carry the weather satellite into orbit at the end of the window, 4:42 p.m. MST.

It's the first of four satellites being built to replace the aging United States weather satellite system.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite satellite system is being built at the Lockheed Martin facility in Littleton. The entire system will be operational in the 2030s.

These GOES satellites will provide three times more spectral channels, four times better image resolution and five times faster scans of the Earth. GOES-R, the first satellite in the new series, will forever benefit weather forecasting across the U.S.

“In terms of increased quality, the images from GOES-R have been described as going from standard definition TV to high definition TV. There’s also a huge increase in the performance of the spacecraft in addition to new capabilities,” said Tim Gasparrini, Lockheed Martin GOES-R vice president.

More facts

  • GOES-R satellites will be in a geostationary orbit 22,500 miles above the Earth, always looking down and monitoring the U.S. and Western Hemisphere.
  • GOES-R will transmit more data in the first six months of operation than all previous GOES weather satellites combined.
  • The Geostationary Lightning Mapper will be the first operational lightning mapper flown in geostationary orbit.
  • GOES-R will continue its important role in the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system which has contributed to the rescue of thousands of individuals in distress.