Naming a GOES Satellite
When GOES satellites are planned, designed and built, NOAA assigns each one with a letter (-A, -B, -C…). Then, once the satellite reaches geostationary orbit, the satellite is given a number designation. For example, GOES-O, once in orbit, was designated GOES-14.
These satellites are built in sets, or “series”, which are denoted by the first satellite in that series. For instance, the GOES-A satellite series included GOES-A, -B, and –C. The GOES-R series includes GOES-R, -S, -T, and –U. Since the first GOES satellite in 1975, GOES satellites have gone through four generations of improvements, each one flying new, advanced technology.
Now that GOES-R has reached geostationary orbit, and is operating as planned, the satellite’s designation has been transitioned from “-R” to “-16”. However, the entire series of satellites is still referred to as NOAA’s GOES-R series of geostationary satellites.
GOES East and GOES West
The United States uses two operational geostationary satellites at all times-- one in an east position, and one in a west position. Currently, GOES-13 operates as “GOES East” while GOES-15 fills the “GOES West” spot. NOAA’s GOES-14 satellite is positioned between the two as an on-orbit back-up.
After a yearlong extended checkout and validation phase, GOES-16 will transition to operations and will take over as either GOES East or GOES West. Which position it will serve has yet to be determined and the final decision will be based on the health and performance of the entire NOAA GOES constellation.
New Name, Same Mission: What’s next for GOES-16
Now that the satellite has settled into geostationary orbit, GOES-16 will perform its second stage solar array deployment, releasing its solar array yoke and solar pointing platform.
In the days that follow, the software will be transitioned from the 'orbit raising' mission phase to 'operational’, several maneuvers will be conducted to adjust the satellite's precise orbit, and the magnetometer boom will be deployed. The rigorous testing and calibration of GOES-16 will then begin.
Click here to learn about the satellite, take a look back at its journey to space, and read more about its mission to revolutionize weather forecasting.