Satellite enters orbit to watch weather and wildfires

Atlas 5 launch
The GOES-S satellite is launched by an Atlas 5 rocket. (NASA via YouTube)

A next-generation GOES-S weather satellite, the second of its kind, rose into orbit at 2:02 p.m. PT (5:02 p.m. ET) today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

NASA assisted with the preparations for launch, but the satellite will be operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of a constellation that also includes GOES-R, now known as GOES-16. The acronym stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.

GOES-16 monitors the eastern United States, much of South America, the Caribbean region and the Atlantic Ocean from NOAA’s GOES-East orbital vantage point, 22,000 miles above Earth.

Once GOES-S is declared operational, late this year, it will occupy the GOES-West position as GOES-17.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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