The revolutionary GOES-R weather satellite is scheduled to launch Saturday at 5:42 p.m. from Cape Canaveral.
GOES-R is expected to be a game-changer in weather forecasting, improving warning times during severe weather events, such as tornadoes, and helping better anticipate rapid intensification in hurricanes.
An Atlas V 541 rocket will take the satellite into space.
NOAA has not sent a new weather satellite to space in nearly seven years. It announced the launch date Wednesday, eager to start receiving images and information from the souped-up equipment.
The launch can be watched live on NASA TV.
“The satellites up now have a lifespan and they are reaching the end of that lifespan,” said Kevin Cooley, director of the office of planning and programming for service delivery at the National Weather Service. “This will be like going from black and white TV to big screen high-resolution.”
Equipped with a state-of-the-art camera, the satellite can scan the Earth five times faster and with four times the resolution of current satellites.
It also has a Geostationary Lightning Mapper — the first of its kind in orbit — that will help determine whether a thunderstorm is deepening by looking at not just cloud-to-ground lightning, but cloud-to-cloud lightning.
Currently, forecasters use lightning data provided by ground-based instruments that only detects cloud-to-ground lightning.
GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, and the GOES-R is the latest in a series of GOES satellites that were first launched in 1975. A budget of $10.3 billion includes the entire development and lifespan operation of GOES-R and three other satellites through 2036.