GOES-U embarks from Buckley SFB

  • Published
  • By Airman First Class Joshua Hollis
  • Space Base Delta 2

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite begins its departure from Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado., Jan. 22, 2024. 

GOES-U, the final addition to the groundbreaking GOES-R series of weather and climate satellites, is set to embark on its journey from Buckley Space Force Base. The 9th Airlift Squadron aircrew will transport the six-thousand pound satellite to The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Kennedy Space Center for its scheduled launch in April 2024.

“We are going to the Cape Canaveral launch facility… so it’s pretty remarkable and that can only be done with partnerships with Buckley Space Force Base, NASA, and everyone else helping us out,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jonny Belinski, 9th Airlift Squadron Aircraft commander.

Over the last 50 years, Lockheed Martin has been at the forefront of advancing weather forecasting capabilities, having built and launched more than 100 weather and environmental spacecraft for various government agencies. The latest technology featured on GOES-16 and GOES-17 allows these satellites to observe and predict weather phenomena on Earth and in space with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

GOES-U's capabilities extend beyond traditional weather monitoring. It will play a crucial role in identifying volcanic eruptions, even those beneath the ocean. Additionally, GOES-U will measure land and sea surface temperatures to track drought conditions and warming oceans, provide early alerts for wildfires, and observe solar flares that could impact telecommunication systems.

The GOES-R series, including GOES-U, carries a suite of instruments such as the Geostationary Lightning Mapper and Solar Ultraviolet Imager, enhancing our ability to monitor and predict weather patterns. The GLM, for instance, tracks lightning in real-time, aiding meteorologists in identifying intensifying storms swiftly.

Lockheed Martin's collaboration with NASA and NOAA remains vital for future weather and climate missions. The GOES-R series has already proven its worth, with satellites like GOES-16 transmitting more data in its first six months of operation than all previous GOES weather satellites combined.

Notably, GOES-16 and 17 have played a crucial role in the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking system, contributing to the rescue of thousands of individuals. In 2020, these satellites helped save 304 lives during the busiest Atlantic storm season on record.

“This cargo is weighing in at 110,000 lbs. and carrying about 6,000 lbs. of fuel and we will be landing on the longest runway any of us have ever seen at Cape Canaveral with a runway of 15,000 feet,” stated U.S. Air Force Capt. Wilson Chen, 9th Airlift Squadron pilot. 

As the GOES-R series continues to provide sharper and more defined images of severe weather, hurricanes, and wildfires, it remains a cornerstone in enhancing our nation's capabilities in climate monitoring, ecosystems management, commerce, and transportation. The deployment of GOES-U further solidifies the commitment to advancing our understanding of Earth's complex environmental dynamics.