New NASA images show the rarely seen sight of a satellite sealed inside the rocket’s fairing ahead of launch next month.
The fairing is an essential element of rocket design, making the launch vehicle more aerodynamic while protecting the payload from the extreme forces experienced during the rapid ascent to space.
The series of four images (below) shows the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite T (GOES-T) undergoing final preparation before its scheduled March 1 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
(Click on the images to see the entirety of each one))
the #GOEST satellite is now encapsulated in the payload fairings that will protect it when launched aboard a @ULALaunch #AtlasV. Follow the key milestones as we get #ReadyToGOES: https://t.co/XccCDI6tZr pic.twitter.com/ACfpmz7Dmn
— NASA Launch Services Program (@NASA_LSP) February 15, 2022
The 6,000-pound GOES-T weather satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, was placed inside the fairing at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida, about 10 miles from the launch site.
The fairing, along with the satellite secured inside, will be placed atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on Thursday. Then, on February 28, the entire vehicle will be taxied to the Cape Canaveral launch pad for takeoff the next day.
“Things are getting real now, GOES-T is fully assembled and ready for launch,” GOES-T mission manager Rex Engelhardt said in a post on NASA’s website. “Next week, we’ll be holding final launch walkthroughs and exercising teams on their launch consoles in preparation for launch day.”
GOES-T is the third satellite in NOAA’s GOES-R series, with the network enabling meteorologists to monitor and forecast local weather events that affect public safety, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods and other severe weather events,” according to NASA, with GOES-T poised to offer critical data for the US West Coast, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America and the Pacific Ocean. It will also detect and monitor environmental hazards such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions.
NASA is set to livestream the launch of the GOES-T mission. Be sure to check back for more details on how to watch.