NOAA 99-R318
Contact: Pat Viets


The launch of GOES-L, an advanced U.S. weather satellite that will monitor hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and other severe weather, has been delayed until October, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced today.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite was originally planned for launch on May 15. It was delayed at that time to allow NASA and NOAA time to review recent launch failures. It also allowed results of internal reviews by the rocket manufacturers.

One such investigation is of the recent failure of a Boeing Delta III rocket, which uses the RL-10 upper state engine, the same engine used on the Atlas Centaur for the GOES-L mission. Investigation of the Delta III is not expected to be completed in time to support a GOES-L launch before the next eclipse season, which runs from late August until mid October. During that time, the Earth would be between the sun and the satellite for a maximum of 72 minutes each day. The solar arrays would not be in sufficient sunlight for the planned orbit-raising sequence. After the launch constraints are resolved, NOAA and NASA will explore the first launch opportunity after Oct. 5 with Lockheed Martin.

The GOES-L satellite was de-mated from the AC-137 Atlas IIA rocket on Launch Pad 36A on June 16, and was returned to Astrotech, Titusville, Fla., its original integration facility. While the satellite is at Astrotech, its batteries are being reconditioned, and a gaseous nitrogen purge is being performed to components on the satellite to prevent degradation.

The United States operates two meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the Equator, one over the East Coast and one over the West Coast. GOES-8, launched in April 1994 on an Atlas, is overlooking the East Coast out into the Atlantic Ocean and is positioned at 75 degrees West. GOES-10, launched on an Atlas on April 25, 1997, is currently overlooking the West Coast out into the Pacific including Hawaii; it is located at 135 degrees West longitude.

GOES-L, to be renamed GOES-11 once on orbit, will be stored on orbit ready for operation when needed as a replacement for GOES-8 or 10. GOES-L will ensure continuity of GOES data from two GOES satellites.

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service operates the GOES series of satellites. After the satellites complete on-orbit checkout, NOAA assumes responsibility for command and control, data receipt, and product
generation and distribution. The GOES satellites are a critical component of the ongoing National Weather Service modernization program, aiding forecasters in providing more precise and timely forecasts.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the GOES contract. Goddard manages the design, development, and launch of the spacecraft for NOAA. NASA's Kennedy Space Center is responsible for government oversight of launch operations and countdown activities. GOES-L was built by Space Systems/Loral, a subsidiary of Loral Space and Communications Ltd.