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GOES-14 Successfully Launched

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite GOES-O was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on June 27 and reached its geostationary orbit location at 89.5 degrees west longitude last week. Upon reaching orbit, GOES-O became GOES-14. The solar array was successfully deployed on July 9 at 4:55 p.m.

GOES-14 is the second in the GOES-N series. Some of its new top-level capabilities include a digital low rate information transmission-formatted weather facsimile service (WEFAX), expanding measurements for the Space Environment Monitor (SEM) instruments, a new dedicated channel for the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network service and a more stable platform for supporting improved imager, sounder, and SXI instruments.

The SEM should come in useful as we enter a new sunspot cycle. It consists of three instrument groups: an energetic particle sensor package; two magnetometer sensors; and a solar x-ray sensor. The sensors provide real-time data to the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. A special five-channel telescope measures solar extreme ultraviolet energy in five wavelength bands from 10 nm to 126 nm. This provides a direct measure of the solar energy that heats Earth's upper atmosphere and creates the ionosphere.

Boeing will hand over engineering control of GOES-14 to NASA on July 17, 2009. While it will take NASA approximately five months to complete the in-orbit checkout, the first visible image from the ITT-built sensor is planned for July 27. 2009. Once NASA has checked out the GOES-14, it will be transferred to NOAA and stored in orbit as a spare and available for activation should one of the operational GOES satellites degrade or run out of fuel.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.