GOES-R Launch Delayed Due to Hurricane Matthew Impacts – UPDATE 2

GOES-R Launch Delayed Due to Hurricane Matthew Impacts – UPDATE 2

NOAA announced today that the launch of the first of its new generation of weather satellites, GOES-R, will be delayed because of impacts from Hurricane Matthew.  The scheduled November 4 launch now will take place no earlier than November 16. [UPDATE: The launch date slipped again to November 19 due to technical issues with the Atlas V rocket.  It was successfully launched on November 19 at 6:42 pm ET, the end of its hour-long launch window after another Atlas V technical issue and an undisclosed problem at the Eastern Test Range were resolved.]

The revised launch date is tentative pending approval of the Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, which operates Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).  GOES-R will be launched by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket, which is launched from Launch Complex 41 at CCAFS.

NOAA stressed that the spacecraft itself was safe inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility in nearby Titusville, FL during the storm.  It is fine.  The delay is due to unspecified damage to launch infrastructure.  

ULA said in a tweet that the damage is “minor to moderate.” 

ULA spokeswoman Lyn Chassange added via email on October 19 that the
“areas hardest hit were some ground equipment at the SLC-41 Vertical
Integration Facility, damage to the Mobile Service Tower doors at SLC-37
and the Delta Operations Center roof.”

NOAA and the weather community are anxiously awaiting the launch of GOES-R, the first of four satellites expected to provide revolutionary capabilities to improve weather forecasting.   It is somewhat ironic that its launch is being delayed by the very type of weather system — a hurricane — that it is designed to track.  

Hurricane Matthew was forecast to wreak severe damage in Florida earlier this month due to very high winds and storm surge.  In the end, Florida was spared the worst case scenario.  The storm’s greatest damage was in North Carolina caused by heavy rains and flooding.  Still, the Cape Canaveral area suffered winds in excess of 100 miles per hour.

Note:  This was article was updated on October 19 to include the comments from Lyn Chassange and again on November 20 to indicate when the launch took place.


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