The weather satellites will help predict thunderstorms, fog, tornadoes, flash floods, hurricanes and other weather conditions and map things like total lightning activity in real time. They will be launched from April 2024 via the 23-floor Falcon Heavy rocket.
Elon Musk-led SpaceX has won a $152 million contract from NASA to launch geostationary weather satellites as part of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) mission.
These satellites will help predict thunderstorms, fog, tornadoes, flash floods, hurricanes and other weather conditions. GOES satellites have been used for monitoring dust storms, volcanic eruptions and forest fires, said NASA.
“The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U (GOES-U) mission will provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s weather, oceans, and environment, as well as real-time mapping of total lightning activity and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather,” NASA said in a statement.
Starting from April 2024, Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX will launch satellites into the orbit on a Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Considered as the most powerful operational space launch vehicle in the world, the 23-storey Falcon Heavy delivered its first commercial payload into the orbit in 2019. Operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, GOES-U is the fourth and final spacecraft in the GOES-R Series of geostationary weather satellites.
United Launch Alliance, that earlier launched satellites from the series, withdrew itself from the bid as it did not have vehicles available to launch the satellites, Space News reported.
The SpaceX contract value is less than the $165.7 million contract awarded to United Launch Alliance in December 2019 for the GOES-T launch.
This is not the first big-budget contract SpaceX has got from NASA. It already has in its kitty a $178-million contract from the space agency to explore living conditions in Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The Europa Clipper mission will also be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket in October 2024.
SpaceX is one of the biggest private players in aerospace and is currently preparing to launch the first all-civilian crew for three days.