Spaceflight Insider

Our Spaceflight Heritage: GOES 1

Image Credit: NOAA

On Oct. 16, 1975, the first of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) series was launched from Space Launch Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it was launched on a Delta 2914 expendable rocket which was developed by NASA’s Office of Space Science Applications. GOES-1 was placed in geostationary orbit directly above the equator to gather data for the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP).


Photo Credit: NASA

Weighing almost 1,400 pounds (631 kg), GOES 1 was positioned over the Indian Ocean and was operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The spacecraft was essentially a cylinder some 75 inches (190 cm) in diameter and 105 inches (267 cm) high in length. The spacecraft was covered by 15,000 solar cells which provided the power for the satellite.

Photo Credit: NOAA

Photo Credit: NOAA

GOES 1 carried a visible infrared spin-scan radiometer (VISSR) to provide high-quality day as well as night cloud cover information. Meteorological measurements were collected and then transmitted to central weather facilities to 10,000 APT-equipped regional stations.

The satellite also used a space environment monitor (SEM) to measure proton, electron, and solar X-ray fluxes and magnetic fields. GOES 1 was handed over to the European Space Agency (ESA) on Dec. 1, 1978. The spacecraft was then controlled by the European Space Operations Centre located in Darmstadt, Germany. A year later, operations returned to NOAA who later reactivated the satellite when GOES 5 experienced a failure on July 30, 1984. GOES 1 eventually stopped working on Feb. 3, 1985.


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Heather Smith's fascination for space exploration – started at the tender age of twelve while she was on a sixth-grade field trip in Kenner, Louisiana, walking through a mock-up of the International Space Station and seeing the “space potty” (her terminology has progressed considerably since that time) – she realized at this point that her future lay in the stars. Smith has come to realize that very few people have noticed how much spaceflight technology has improved their lives. She has since dedicated herself to correcting this problem. Inspired by such classic literature as Anne Frank’s Diary, she has honed her writing skills and has signed on as The Spaceflight Group’s coordinator for the organization’s social media efforts.

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