T-1 days for new weather eye to launch; behind the scenes at Kennedy Space Center

By: Irene Sans

Updated:

It's less than 48 hours until the new Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite R-Series launches and the preparations are starting to ramp up quickly!

Skies were a bit hazy Thursday morning, due to smoke from the current wildfires in North Carolina and Georgia. It is very possible that the smoke (and odor) will denser by the weekend after the winds shift and a cold front pushes through Central Florida.

At the workshop for broadcast meteorologists, attendees were able to tour the Vehicle Assembly Building, (better known by its initials, VAB), and have an up-close visit to the launch pad that will host the Mars (and Beyond) missions.

This emblematic building stands tall, 40 floors (526 feet) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Work was been done in a platform. This platform will carry a rocket, after assembly, to the launch pad. Yes, in this building! It is like a separate wing that detaches from the same structure.  

                 

At the launch pad 39B, where space shuttles used to launch from before they were discontinued from launching at KSC, there were two towers equipped with weather instruments that measure winds and lightning detection. Lightning is the biggest worry for scientists. Lightning detectors are installed sparsely along the compound. If lightning strikes, all vehicles, rockets and instruments need to go extensive inspections and testing all over again. About a quarter of a mile from where the rocket would be there are several operational television mounts. Cameras are there before the launch and left to capture the liftoff.
At the moment of launch the closest people will be about 3 miles away from the launch pad. If the spacecraft were manned -- a program that is no longer active at Kennedy Space Center, -- the closest people would be emergency responders at about half a mile. Launch pad 39B, will be used again for the Mars (and Beyond) Missions, coming in the near future.

 

 

Also today, two press conferences were streamed live. First a pre-launch mission briefing, then NOAA GOES-R Mission briefing. NOAA’s officials explained that if this satellite was in space and operating during Hurricane Matthew, the forecast track would have been more accurate. Imagery would have been more precise and the wobbles in the hurricane would had been noticed clearer.

After the satellite launches, it will be in orbit for several months, in testing mode. GOES-R’s first images will be published within six months from launch.

GOES-R will be placed in the 89.5° checkout location during the testing phase. After six to twelve months, its final location will be determined based on the conditions of current GOES constellation. It can either become GOES East (at 75 degrees west) or GOES West (at 137 degrees west).

GOES-R is set to launch on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 5:42 p.m. from Cape Canaveral.

On Friday, the rocket/satellite will be rolled out to the launch pad. Channel 9's Digital Meteorologist Irene Sans will be covering this event and will bring updates as soon as it is happening on her Facebook page. 

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