NASA has selected the SpaceX Falcon Heavy to launch its Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) mission.
The more than 5,000-kilogram GOES-U satellite is the fourth and final of the GOES-R series of weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The first two GOES-R satellites were launched in 2016 and 2018, with a third expected to follow in 2022.
Once launched, the GOES-U satellite will collect advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s weather, oceans, and environment. it will also provide real-time mapping of lightning activity and improve NASA’s ability to monitor solar activity and space weather.
GOES-U is the second NASA mission the agency has select to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in less than two months. In July, NASA awarded a $178 million contract to SpaceX for the launch of its Europa Clipper mission.
The next Falcon Heavy launch is currently slated for October 9. The launch will be the first Falcon Heavy flight to carry a classified payload. The classified USSF-44 payload will be accompanied by at least two rideshare payloads, including the TETRA-1 satellite for the United States Space Force.