GOES news GOES-NEWS last update 14 April 2017

DISCLAIMER: This information is my best effort to provide highlights about the GOES project. It is not official, and probably contains errors in detail, but it gives you an idea of what is going on...
Dennis Chesters, GOES flight project scientist, 1992->now


teacher GOES Program Documents

note icon GOES Technical notes

Thumbnail History of GOES Launches, as of 2011

GOES-8 GOES-I/M and GOES-N/P series

During NASA's construction and launch phases, the satellites have alphabetical designations: GOES-I, GOES-J, etc.. Once the satellites are safely launched and deployed, they get a serial number in orbit: GOES-I and GOES-J were expected to have a 3 year on-orbit life. GOES-8 actually has operated over 8.5 years, but GOES-9 had to be shutdown after 3 years. GOES-K/L/M are expected to have at least a 5 year on-orbit life, because the later models are more robust after learning from the earlier models.

The heavy-launcher used on GOES-11/-12 delivered the satellites efficiently with about 10-years of station-keeping fuel, which is normally the life-limiting factor for GOES satellites. The same heavy-launch strategy was used for Boeing's GOES-N/O/P satellites to maximize their on-orbit fuel.

Construction and launch dates for GOES have been arranged to assure two-satellite operations while minimizing storage costs by using "free" on-orbit storage. GOES-12 was activated as GOES-EAST in the spring of 2003, before GOES-11, in order to use the unique Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) on GOES-12.

GOES long-term project plan, as of early-2016.
Loral Contract
Spacecraft Launch Readiness Launch Date Operations Date Retirement Date
GOES-I (-8) April 1994 April 1994 June 1995 March 2003
GOES-J (-9) April 1995 May 1995 January 1996 November 2005
GOES-K (-10) April 1997 April 1997 August 1998 December 2009
GOES-L (-11) May 1999 May 2000 June 2006 December 2011
GOES-M (-12) October 2000 July 2001 March 2003 August 2013
Boeing (formerly Hughes) Contract
Spacecraft Launch Readiness Launch Date Operations Date Retirement Date
GOES-N (-13) January 2005 May 2006 April 2010 October 2017?
GOES-O (-14) December 2005 June 2009 October 2016? June 2019??
GOES-P (-15) April 2007 March 2010 December 2011 October 2018?
Lockheed-Martin Contract
Spacecraft Launch Readiness Launch Date Operations Date Retirement Date
GOES-R August 2016 November 2016 October 2017? April 2025?
GOES-S December 2017 March 2018? October 2018? September 2028??
GOES-T April 2019? June 2020? April 2025?? July 2033??
GOES-U September 2021? October 2024?? September 2028?? September 2036??
?planned date
??WAG date

The nominal operational design life was 5-years for Loral's GOES-I/M satellites, 7-years for Boeing's GOES-N/P satellites, and 10-years for Lockheed-Martin's GOES-R/U satellites. NOAA-NESDIS uses a slightly shorter operational lifetime in planning their flyout schedule for the next few decades.

GOES-K (GOES-10) was launched in April 1997, well before GOES-I/J's expected end-of-life, in order to get a spare satellite safely on-orbit. That proved to be good planning, because GOES-K (GOES-10) had to immediately replace GOES-J (GOES-9) as GOES-WEST in August 1998, after only one month of on-orbit storage.

In 2003, NOAA positioned GOES-9 over the western Pacific, to help Japan when the aging GMS-5 satellite failed before Japan could launch a MTSAT replacement. Japan paid for a control center in Fairbanks, Alaska, in order for NOAA to be able to operate a GOES satellite located west of the dateline.

In 2006, NOAA positioned GOES-10 at 65W, for dedicated scanning of South America and tropical storms in hurricane alley. GOES-10 was out of inclination-keeping fuel, so the satellite no longer stayed over the equator. Consequently, imagery had to be reprocessed to make it look like it comes from a geostationary satellite.

In December 2009, NOAA retired and de-orbited GOES-10 from its South American mission, replacing it with GOES-12 in June 2010.

Since 1990, the launch-and-deploy failure rate has been about 15% (1 in 7) for comparable civilian geosynchronous communications satellites. During the same time, the failure rate for GOES has been 0 in 8, due to the mission assurance work provided by NASA.

The advantage to an "on-orbit spare" is that it can be made operational in less than one month. For example, GOES-K was called up after just one month as an "on-orbit spare". If GOES satellites were kept in on-earth storage subject to NOAA call-up, there would be about 9 months of preparation and testing between call-up and launch, followed by 3 months of post-launch deployment and testing before the satellite could become operational.


On-line GOES images from the active satellites are widely available on the Web. Help yourself.


The GOES-N/O/P/(Q) series are built by the Boeing Satellite Systems (formerly Hughes Corp.)

On this series, the GOES-N/O/P Imagers will not have the 12-13 micron channel (a volcanic ash-sensitive channel which was converted to a cloud-sensing 12.9-13.8 micron channel on GOES-M). GOES-O/P will have improved 4 km resolution in the 13 micron channel.

With the Loral spacecraft lasting longer than expected, NOAA decided in 2002 to not exercise the option for GOES-Q, even though they have already purchased the corresponding Imager and Sounder from ITT.

The GOES-NOPQ contract was remarkable for being fixed-price, with delivery on-orbit, and with a warranty for one no-cost replacement satellite if something failed during launch and testing that is critical to the GOES mission.

GOES History

NASA-HQ version, circa 1997.

NESDIS spreadsheet version, circa 2013.

ATS3 ATS series color disk

The Applications Technology Satellites were communications satellites with imagers, flown by Hughes Corp. for NASA-GSFC.

The ATS-1 satellite was used in 1967 to make the first fulldisk animated movie of global weather from a time-series of black-and-white still photographs placed sequentially on a film stand.

The ATS-3 imager took line-by-line color TV pictures, one of which we digitized 30 years later using a faded color photograph from the Hughes Corp. archives.

In 1999, JT Young at the University of Wisconsin digitized some of the surviving ATS-3 color photos, making possible the first day-long color QuickTime movie of the Earth on 18 November 1967.

GOES-7 GOES-A/H series

The GOES-1/7 series were all built by the Hughes Corp. (now Boeing). They were spin-stabilized, with a telescope looking out the side, sweeping out a few lines of imagery with every turn of the satellite.

Non-GOES Geosynchronous Weather Satellites

CGMS, Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites

Space and Weather Servers

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This information is in the public domain, and permission is granted to use, duplicate, modify and redistribute it.
Please give credit for the satellite images to NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA and its employees provide absolutely NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.

mail icon NASA Official: Dennis.Chesters@nasa.gov

GOES Project