Whatever the fate of NASA's manned spaceflight program, the space agency's weather satellite program is continuing unabated.
NASA's latest launch was March 4 when the GOES-P (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite) rode a Delta IV rocket into space. The GOES-P is "the latest in a series of meteorological satellites designed to watch for storm development and weather conditions on Earth. From its location in Earth orbit, GOES-P's state-of-the-art instrumentation will supply data used in weather monitoring, forecasting and warnings. It also will detect ocean and land temperatures, monitor space weather, relay communications and provide search-and-rescue support," NASA said on the satellite's mission page.
After reaching orbit, GOES-P became GOES-15.
GOES-P was built by Boeing and "developed by NASA for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. The Delta IV rocket was launched by United Launch Alliance for Boeing Launch Services under an FAA commercial license," NASA said on a mission page Feb. 4.
"The GOES-P spacecraft completed its build late in 2006 (just after the launch of GOES-N) and since that time the spacecraft was in storage at the Boeing Facility in El Segundo, CA," NASA said on a Web page about the satellite.
"The first GOES satellite was launched in 1975 and it was called GOES-A. It was the first time we actually saw an image of what the weather was creating on Earth," GOES-P Observatory Manager Kathleen McIntyre said in a NASA podcast Feb. 22.
"The next generation ... I through M, was the first series that was three-axis stabilized, which meant it actually sat and pointed at the Earth as [opposed] to spinning and having to take images while it's spinning," said Tom Fields, GOES-N series systems engineer.
"That whole series of satellites, GOES N-O-P, has some new capabilities for us in space weather. This is data that arrives almost instantaneously and therefore allows us to provide very timely alerts and warnings," said Howard Singer of NOAA, in the same podcast.