Once again, NASA has given precedence to SpaceX by giving them the federal contract to launch the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) mission.
According to the space agency, the total coast for the GOES-U mission is about $152.5 million which includes the launch as well as other mission-related services. The geostationary weather satellite is expected to launch in April 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“GOES-U will provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment, as well as real-time mapping of total lightning activity and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather,” said NASA officials in a statement. The GOES-U satellite is the fourth and final spacecraft in the GOES-R Series of geostationary weather satellites which is a joint collaboration between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The other three include GOES-R, GOES-S, GOES-T. These satellites are about 22,236 miles (35,785 kilometers) above the planet’s surface.
Space X’s Falcon Heavy is a large cargo-lifting rocket that was first launched in February 2018, making it the most powerful booster in operation at that time. The rocket flew the company founder and CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster along with a mannequin named “Starman” to space on its iconic debut test flight.
The Falcon Heavy has just been used for three liftoffs prior to this but it looks like it has more incoming launches with the U.S Space Force using it to launch two classified missions in the near future. Among other payloads include NASA’s Psyche asteroid probe in August 2022, Europa Clipper mission in October 2024 and NASA’s Gateway moon-orbiting space station in November 2024. And now the GOES-U has been added to the list of the scheduled launches. Looks like it has a busy launching schedule up ahead.