The first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket set to launch NOAA’s GOES-S weather satellite was lifted atop its mobile launch platform Jan. 31 inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 41 launch pad. Credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
Engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center tasked with overseeing launches of scientific satellites and interplanetary probes will be responsible later this year for ensuring six major missions safely get into space over a span of a little more than six months, beginning with the launch of NOAA’s new GOES-S weather observatory on an Atlas 5 rocket March 1.
After overseeing the launch of NOAA’s latest weather satellite, NASA plans to put up a spacecraft to search for planets circling other stars, a lander that will travel to Mars, a small satellite to study the interaction between solar activity and Earth’s atmosphere, a probe to travel closer to the sun than any previous mission, and a mission to measure Earth’s thinning polar ice sheets and glaciers.
It’s a big year for NASA’s Launch Services Program, an office headquartered at the Kennedy Space Center charged with ensuring the agency’s robotic missions safely reach space.
The brisk pace of launches planned for this year ...