1 of 5 | An Atlas V rocket launches the GOES-T weather satellite from Florida on March 1, 2022. Photo courtesy of NASA
ORLANDO, Fla., March 1 (UPI) -- NASA launched the latest in an advanced series of weather satellites, the GOES-T, from Florida on Tuesday to improve weather forecasting over the Pacific and western United States.
United Launch Alliance's Atlas V lifted off as planned into a mostly sunny sky at 4:38 p.m. from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. ULA confirmed the satellite separated from the rocket and was deployed into orbit around 8 p.m.
Meteorologists around the world are looking forward to better data from the newest weather satellite, which will feed data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other U.S. agencies.
"I can't wait for the new GOES-18 data to arrive," Tim Schmidt, a NOAA research satellite meteorologist based in Wisconsin, told UPI in an email.
After reaching space, the GOES-T becomes officially known as GOES-18. It will be positioned over the Pacific about 22,236 miles high, where it will scan weather patterns for Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and western states.
"This is the third in this new advanced series," Schmidt said. "The instruments are similar to previous spacecraft, but this will help provide the continuity of observations that we all need."
The GOES series of satellites have improved forecasting by providing updated images and data of storms, for example, in as little as five minutes rather than every 15 to 30 minutes
One notable feature, he said, is the satellite's ability to monitor most of the Western hemisphere at a large scale, while still being able to hone in on regional phenomena like wildfires, storms and volcanoes.
Such capability will allow forecasters to make better long-term and short-term forecasts, he said.
The Atlas V rocket will fly in its 541 configuration, which means it has ULA's largest fairing, four boosters attached and a single upper stage, the launch service provider said.
The rocket packs about 30 million horsepower, or 2.25 million pounds of thrust, upon liftoff, ULA CEO Tory Bruno said in a video about the launch.
"This is a cool mission," Bruno said. "These GOES satellites improve our ability to predict flash floods, lightning storms, tornadoes in almost real-time monitoring of hurricane tracks and, of course, even climate change."
The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8. Photo courtesy of NASA