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Erica Hupp/Delores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1237/1753)

Cynthia M. O'Carroll
Goddard Space Flight Center
(Phone: 301/286-4647)

John Leslie
NOAA Satellites and Information Service
(Phone: 301/457-5005)
May 04, 2005
RELEASE : 05-117
NASA, NOAA to Launch New Environmental Satellite
NASA is set to launch NOAA's new Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES), another critical link in the development of a global Earth observation program, which will improve NOAA's long-range climate forecasts and U.S. search and rescue operations.

The new spacecraft, NOAA-N, will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif., on May 11, 2005 at 3:22 a.m. PDT (6:22 a.m. EDT).

"The NOAA-N satellite is key to establishing a strong Global Earth Observation System of Systems, because it will strengthen our understanding about what the environment around the world is doing, not just here in the U.S,” said Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. “From monitoring the ash clouds of Mount St. Helens last year, to bolstering the U.S. search and rescue network, which has saved thousands of lives, NOAA-N will be the link in our continued success," he added.

NOAA-N will replace NOAA-16, in operation since September 2000, and join NOAA-17, launched in June 2002. Once in orbit, NOAA-N will be renamed NOAA-18. NOAA maintains a constellation of two primary polar-orbiting satellites at any time. The global data from these satellites are used extensively in NOAA’s weather and climate prediction numerical models.

"NASA is proud of our role in building and launching these environmental satellites which contribute to NOAA’s vital mission of providing weather forecasts and collecting environmental data about the Earth", stated Karen Halterman, the NASA POES Project Manager, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

As it orbits the globe, NOAA-N will collect data about the Earth's surface and atmosphere that are input to NOAA’s long-range climate and seasonal outlooks, including forecasts for El Nino and La Nina.

NOAA-N has instruments that are used in the international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, called COSPAS-SARSAT. Since SARSAT was established in 1982, NOAA polar-orbiting satellites detect distress signals emitted from emergency beacons and relay them to ground stations so that rescue can be dispatched. To date SARSAT is credited with saving nearly 5,000 lives in the United States, and more than 18,000 worldwide.

NOAA-N is the fifteenth satellite in a series of polar-orbiting satellites dating back to 1978. NOAA-N has imaging and sounding capabilities that are broadcast around the world and recorded on board for playback over the NOAA ground stations. The NOAA-N data are used in weather and climate forecasts. There is one more satellite in this series scheduled for launch in December 2007. NOAA’s next generation of polar spacecraft, the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), a joint program with NOAA, the Department of Defense and NASA, which is planned to launch in early 2010, will follow the NOAA series of satellites.

NOAA manages the POES program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., procures and manages the development and launch of the NOAA satellites for NOAA on a cost reimbursable basis.

Twenty-one days after it is launched, NASA will transfer operational control of NOAA-18 to NOAA. NASA's comprehensive on-orbit verification period is expected to last approximately 45 days after launch.

For more information about NOAA-N and the polar orbiting satellites, see the following web sites:


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