NASA Gives Group Go-Ahead To Build More Weather Satellites SCG Journal August 1982 transcribed by Faith MacPherson

A sole-source letter contract has been signed by officials of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and SCG management for follow-on meteorological spacecraft for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program.

Under the $11.3 million agreement, Group scientists and engineers will begin the design and development of two satellites, designated GOES G and H. The contract also contains an option for a third similar metsat, GOES I. SCG had already begun to procure high reliability parts for the space vehicles’ imager/sounder payload before the agreement was reached and has started negotiations with firms which will act as subcontractors on the program. Meanwhile, personnel from NASA Systems Division are meeting with Division 41 engineers and Division 45 procurement and manufacturing specialists to discuss plans and schedules.

SCG management has said that it expects negotiations on the final GOES follow-up contract to be completed before the year’s end.

The additional GOES spacecraft will be identical to GOES D, E and F, which Space and Comm built previously. GOES D was launched in September 1980, and GOES E was boosted into space in May 1981. GOES F was completed last year and then stored. GOES F will become a member of the orbiting constellation in 1983.

NASA is procuring the follow-on satellites for the U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This agency operates spacecraft built by SCG and other firms as part of its National Environmental Satellite System (NESS).

The stars of NESS are SCG’s GOES 4 and 5, perched in orbit on the equator, and two RCA-built spacecraft, NOAA-6 and -7, which pass over the earth in low polar orbits. Four older, partially operating geosynchronous satellites back up GOES 4 and 5. These “senior citizens” function mainly as orbiting relay stations, collecting data from automatic weather platforms and relaying weather images from one ground station to another.

The main payload carried by SCG-built GOES spacecraft is the visible spin-scan radiometer/atmospheric sounder (VAS) – a sophisticated device built by Hughes Santa Barbara Research Center. In space, VAS records visible and infrared “full disc” images every 30 minutes, day and night, of the constantly changing weather picture over North and South America and the Pacific Ocean. The atmospheric sounding portion of VAS also measures air temperatures and moisture at different altitudes.

The combined imagery and sounding data from GOES give meteorologists a 3-D view of the weather, allowing them to “see” what conditions are like within different cloud layers and storm systems.

GOES vehicles also receive information from a complement of land-based and oceanographic data collection platforms (DCP), and relay this DCP data, along with VAS measurements and images, between ground weather centrals.

NASA plans to launch GOES G and H in 1986. By next May, the space agency will decide whether to pick up the contract option for GOES I. If GOES I is built, it will fly in 1987.

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About Jack Fisher

Jack was a systems engineer at Hughes from 1961 to 1992. He contributed to various programs including Surveyor, Pioneer Venus, Galileo, Intelsat VI and innumerable proposals. He was the manager of of the Spacecraft Systems Engineering Lab until his retirement. Upon retirement Jack taught systems engineering at a number of national and international venues.

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