Wednesday, September 01, 2010

GPS, weather satellites launched this year ready for service

Two satellites launched this year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station have successfully completed on-orbit testing and are ready for service.

The first in a $1.6 billion program of new Global Positioning Systems satellites, known as Block IIF, launched late May 27 on its fourth attempt atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket.

The Air Force today announced that the spacecraft called GPS IIF-01 became operational Aug. 26., flying 11,000 nautical miles above Earth in the constellation's "B-2" slot.

The satellite joined 30 others in orbit, several of which are aging an nearing the end of their operational lives. The constellation uses a minimum of 24 satellites to provide precision location, navigation and time information for military and civilian users.

Also today, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced they had taken control of a new national weather satellite that launched a $499-million mission on March 4, also atop a Delta IV.

Known as GOES-P when it launched, the satellite renamed GOES-15 upon reaching orbit was the last in a series of three Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites that monitor life-threatening weather and solar activity.

Flying 22,300 miles above Earth, the satellites will provide improved forecasts and images that appear on TV news broadcasts. Two spacecraft, GOES-11 and GOES-13, are currently active. GOES-14 and GOES-15 will remain in on-orbit storage at 105 degrees west longitude until needed.

NASA in June announced what it called a "miraculous" recovery of one of the spacecraft's instruments, a Lockheed Martin Corp.-built solar X-ray imager that had failed to turn on properly.

The Boeing Co. built both spacecraft. The company said it was the second time in 47 years that it had delivered two operational satellites to two customers in the same week.

IMAGE: From approximately 22,236 miles in space, NOAA's newest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite - GOES-15 - took its first full visible image of the Earth on April 6, 2010 at 1:33 p.m. EDT. Credit: NOAA/NASA/SSEC.

No comments: