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GOES I-J-K Launches Aboard Atlas I Expendable Launch Vehicle

The GOES-K weather satellite was successfully launched from Pad 36-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday April 25, 1997 at 1:49 a.m. EDT by a NASA-Contracter Team led by NASA's Glenn Research Center. All stages performed nominally placing the satellite into orbit with an inclination of 27 degrees. The launch vehicle's mission was completed 28 minutes after liftoff with two burns of the Centaur upper stage. After a 3:27 minute coast, the GOES-K spacecraft separated from the Centaur. The satellite's kick motor circularized the final geostationary orbit.

Atlas I rocket launchGOES-K launches aboard an Atlas I rocket. Credit: NASA

GOES-K was the third spacecraft launched by the NASA ELV team in the new advanced series of geostationary weather satellites for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The launch aboard an Atlas I rocket was designated AC-79. This was the last launch of an Atlas I rocket, one of over 20 configurations of the Atlas rocket with various upper stages and strap-on boosters over the past 40 years. Overall, this was the 72nd launch of the Atlas-Centaur family of rockets managed by NASA Glenn.

Once on orbit, GOES-K was renamed GOES-10. After testing for 2 to 3 months on-orbit, it was stored "sleeping" on-orbit at 105 west longitude, facing away from the Sun. This avoided on-earth storage costs, post-storage re-testing, and the 12-month delay expected between NOAA's call-up and launch. It was put in a standby mode in order to provide continuous service when needed to replace one of the other two GOES satellites in operation at the time of launch.

The spacecraft is a three-axis, internally stabilized weather satellite, which has the dual capability of providing images while performing atmospheric sounding at the same time. The I-M series of satellites were also capable of capturing higher resolution images. GOES satellites take the images used to generate the moving pictures of clouds used on TV weather broadcasts.


On April 13, 1994, Atlas/Centaur-73 launched the GOES-I weather satellite. Once in orbit, the GOES-I spacecraft was designated GOES-8. Starting with GOES-8, the GOES search and rescue system became operational. After nearly eight years of operational service, GOES-I was deorbited on April 1, 2003.


The GOES-J weather satellite was launched on Tuesday, May 23, 1995 at 1:52 a.m. Designated AC-77, the Atlas I rocket had a nominal performance. Twenty-nine minutes after launch, the satellite successfully separated from the Centaur upper stage, placing GOES-J into an essentially perfect orbit. Now that it is in orbit, the GOES-J spacecraft is designated GOES-9 and is the GOES West satellite stationed over the Pacific Ocean.

Roles and Responsibilities

Glenn was responsible for the NASA launch services management of GOES I, J and K. Lockheed-Martin of Denver, Co., was under contract to Glenn to provide launch services.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center was responsible for government oversight of the Atlas I processing activities as it is for all NASA ELV missions. Kennedy also integrated the GOES spacecraft with the launch vehicle and conducts launch countdown activities. Today, Kennedy manages all NASA expedable launch services.

The GOES satellites were built for NASA and NOAA by Space Systems/LORAL of Palo Alto, Calif. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for the project management of the GOES program including final testing in Florida and the initial on-orbit checkout.