NOAA Public Affairs



GOES-10 Weather SatelliteWashington, July 8 - NOAA announced today that one of NOAA's weather satellites, GOES-9, is failing as it reaches the end of its planned life, but the GOES weather satellite data and imagery seen daily on TV weather forecasts will continue to flow without a break. The smooth transition is due to a decision to store a backup weather satellite on orbit to quickly replace a failing one.

NOAA's GOES-10, the nation's newest geostationary weather satellite, which was put into a storage orbit and completed operational testing in June, was activated July 9 in its present position over the central United States (105 degrees West). GOES-10 will replace GOES-9, which is showing signs of near-term failure of its attitude control system.

"Both momentum wheels on GOES-9 have exhibited problems," said Kathleen Kelly,
director of NOAA's Satellite Operations Control Center. "Momentum Wheel 2 failed and was turned off in June and now the other is experiencing extremely high current levels. We need at least one wheel in operation to maintain pointing accuracy. Though we expect it to fail at any time, we are doing our best to keep GOES-9 transmitting until GOES-10 becomes fully operational within the next week."

Once activation begins, GOES-10 will provide useful data within 72 hours. The satellite will be repositioned pending consultation with the National Weather Service. GOES satellite images are best known to television viewers as the cloud images and movies that are broadcast on TV weather forecasts.

"Having a GOES satellite stored on orbit ready to back up the other two GOES satellites turned out to be an excellent idea," said Gerald Dittberner, NOAA's GOES program manager. "It's the first time we had ever had a backup satellite in place. Without such a satellite, we would have had to wait as much as 12 to 15 months to get a launch time slot. Now we can have GOES-10 transmitting data within 72 hours after activation, meeting our program needs without any loss in data continuity."

Both GOES-8 and GOES-9 were the first in a new series of satellites and had projected
planned lifetimes of three years. GOES-8, launched four years and two months ago,
continues to function with no significant changes in the past 18 months. GOES-9, launched in May 95, had reached its projected planned life. The planned mission life for GOES-10 is five years. The next satellite in the series, GOES-L, is scheduled for launch in May 1999 and will be stored on orbit.

NOAA's new GOES series has produced an excellent set of real-time weather data for weather forecasters and researchers. Combined with data from Doppler radars and automated surface observing systems, these satellite data have proved to be crucial in improving weather forecasts and numerical models. Better warnings of thunderstorms, winter storms, flash floods, hurricanes, and other severe weather help to save lives, preserve property, and benefit commercial interests.

NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service funds and operates the GOES series of satellites at the Satellite Operations Control Center in Suitland, Md. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the design, development, and launch of the GOES spacecraft for NOAA.

For more information contact Jeanne Kouhestani at (202) 482-6090 or Kathleen Kelly at (301) 457-5130.