March 1 (UPI) -- United Launch Alliance and its Atlas V rocket launched a weather satellite into orbit for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday.
The ULA's 197-foot-tall rocket successfully blasted off from Launch Complex 41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:02 p.m. to carry the GOES-S into orbit, according to NASA.
About 3 minutes later the satellite made it into space, NASA Flight Commentator Marty Malinowski announced.
"We have a good faring jettison, exposing the GOES-S to space for the first time," Malinowski said.
GOES-S will be known as GOES-17 when it reaches geostationary orbit and will help its sister satellite, GOES-16, launched in 2016, image Earth's atmosphere and collect valuable data for weather forecasting and severe storm tracking.
"GOES-S will help us see the West in true high definition and, along with the remaining satellites in the series, will extend the life of NOAA's geostationary weather constellation to 2036," Tim Walsh, director for the GOES-R satellite program, said at a news conference this week.
Together, the two satellites will be able to scan the entirety of the Western Hemisphere. Their instruments can deliver imaging five times faster and with four times the resolution of legacy weather satellites.
The satellites, both of which will orbit at an altitude of 22,000 miles, will allow researchers to track and model hurricanes in real time.
The pairs' instruments also can image Earth and its atmosphere in a wider spectrum, from visible wavelengths to infrared and near infrared frequencies.
GOES-S will have to go through a variety of testing procedures before it can be integrated into the GOES-R program.