NASA to launch most advanced weather satellite ever on Saturday

GOES-R being rolled out aboard ULA's Atlas V rocket, from VIF to Pad 41. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky)
GOES-R being rolled out aboard ULA's Atlas V rocket, from VIF to Pad 41. (NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The nation’s most advanced weather satellite ever awaits a sunset liftoff.

NASA is launching the $1 billion GOES-R satellite for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An unmanned Atlas rocket is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 5:42 p.m. Saturday.

The satellite will aim for a 22,300-mile-high orbit, where it will churn out the sharpest and fastest pictures yet of hurricanes, tornadoes and other U.S. weather. NOAA (NO-ah) expects it to revolutionize forecasting. It’s part of a new $11 billion system that ultimately will include four satellites.

Two-dozen meteorologists from around the country are on hand for the big event. The weather, appropriately enough, couldn’t be better for launching.

GOES-R eventually will become known as GOES-16. It will join three other weather satellites already in orbit.