NASA writes $1.09B check for Lockheed to build future weather satellites

NASA today laid out $1.09 billion to Lockheed Martin Space Systems to develop the next series of weather/space observation satellites. 

NASA, in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and now Lockheed will build the space birds for NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES-R) Program.  GOES-R satellites will offer a massively upgraded platform for Earth, solar and space-viewing instruments that promise to improve  weather forecasting and environmental, space and solar science.

Specifically GOES-R will feature

  • Imager: Improved resolution (4x), faster coverage (5X), more bands (2X) and more area and space coverage simultaneously
  • Lightning detection: Continuous coverage of total lightning flash rate over land and water
  • Solar/Space Monitoring: Better Imager (UV over X-Ray) and improved heavy ion detection, adds low energy electrons and protons
  • Unique Payload Services: Higher Data Rates for Environmental Data Relay (31Mbps in L-Band); continued Search and Rescue

GOES satellites, first launched in 1994, are the backbone of the weather forecasting and environmental services in the US and across the world.  They circle the Earth in a geosynchronous orbit and watch for severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail storms, and hurricanes, NOAA said. When these conditions develop the GOES satellites are able to monitor storm development and track their movements.

   The first launch of the GOES-R series is scheduled for 2015.

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