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GOES-R Rehearsals: Preparing to Deploy

Friday, March 11, 2016

The GOES-R team has begun a series of important rehearsals to simulate specific steps in the deployment of the satellite, such as spacecraft separation. Mission rehearsals use a satellite simulator to train operations personnel and test the readiness of the ground system. (The ground system is a global network of receiving stations linked to NOAA which distributes the satellite data and derived products to users worldwide). 

GOES-R mission rehearsal at NSOF. Credit: GOES-R Series Program
GOES-R mission rehearsal at NSOF. Credit: GOES-R Series Program 

These simulations help test different parts of launch, like orbit raising, post-separation events, solar array deployment, and propulsion system readiness. They simulate both nominal (normal) and contingency operations and are conducted at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF) in Suitland, Maryland. 

“Mission rehearsals are just that. They are practice for the main event, in this case, the launch of the GOES-R satellite,” said GOES-R Series Program Director, Greg Mandt. “By stepping through the engineering needed to operate the satellite, from the launch sequence to the operations of our ground system, we are ensuring our teams are prepared for launch across the board.” 

To date, GOES-R has completed two of six planned mission rehearsals. Four additional mission rehearsals will take place in the coming months and will simulate critical post-launch events like spacecraft separation from the launch vehicle, instrument activations and the magnetometer boom deployment. 

GOES-R will launch later this year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Once launched and in its geostationary orbit, GOES-R will be known as GOES-16. The satellite will undergo an extended checkout and validation phase of approximately one year and then transition into operations. 

GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next generation geostationary satellites, which will include GOES-S, T, and U. These satellites will provide significant enhancements for weather forecasters at the National Weather Service, giving them the ability to observe the Western Hemisphere in near real time. GOES-R will offer 3x more spectral channels, 4x better resolution, and provide 5x faster scans of the Earth over legacy GOES satellites. GOES-R will also feature the first operational lightning mapper flown from geostationary orbit and improved solar imaging and space weather monitoring capabilities.

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