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Citizen Airman support successful rocket launch of weather satellite

  • Published
  • By 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
  • 920th Space Wing

Against a clear fall night on Florida's Space Coast, Citizen Airmen piloting an Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, a few miles from Space Launch Complex 41 here, had the best view of an Atlas V rocket as it pierced the sky carrying a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R spacecraft Nov. 19 at 6:42 p.m. ET.

Prior to the launch, the helicopter crew from the 920th Rescue Wing, out of nearby Patrick Air Force Base, patrolled approximately 250 nautical square miles to ensure mariners were clear of the launch hazard area beneath the launch trajectory. Another 920th helicopter crew was on standby to assist the 45th Space Wing in case of an emergency.

Once in geostationary orbit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES-R weather and environmental satellite will provide National Weather Service forecasters the meteorological equivalent of going from black and white to ultra-high-definition color TV, according to a NASA release.  The new satellite can deliver vivid images of severe weather as often as every 30 seconds, scanning the Earth five times faster, with four times greater image resolution and using triple the number of spectral channels compared with today’s other GOES spacecraft.


GOES-R’s advanced imagery and higher resolution will also enable improvements to NOAA’s hurricane tracking and intensity forecasts, as well as the forecasting of severe weather including tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding.


“Congratulations to ULA, NASA, NOAA and the entire integrated team who ensured the success of this launch,” said Col. Walt Jackim, 45th Space Wing vice commander and mission Launch Decision Authority. “This successful launch, the first since Hurricane Matthew tore through the Space Coast, is a testament to our dedication, resiliency and perseverance.  It’s my honor to be a part of this tremendous space team supporting the space industry. Assured access to space is a team sport and here on the Eastern Range, no matter what Mother Nature may throw our way, we continue to prove we are the ‘World’s Premier Gateway to Space.’”

Editor's note: Information compiled from an online 45th Space Wing new article