National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a US-based scientific and regulatory agency within the United States Department of Commerce, a United States federal government department. The agency is involved with forecasting weather, monitoring oceanic and atmospheric conditions, charting the seas, conducting deep sea exploration, and managing fishing and protection of marine mammals and endangered species in the U.S. exclusive economic zone. 

NOAA currently owns and operates a total of nine satellites, categorized as follows:

The mission of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to provide daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings, climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration, and the supporting of marine commerce. NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need when they need it.

NOAA’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites is the latest generation in the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) series, known as the GOES-R Series. Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth in a geosynchronous manner, meaning they move at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation, allowing them to remain fixed in the sky relative to a point on the ground. These GOES satellites provide continuous surveillance of the Western Hemisphere from an altitude of approximately 22,300 miles above Earth’s surface. Before launch, GOES satellites are designated with a letter, and once they reach geostationary orbit, they are renamed with a number.

The GOES-R Series comprises four satellites: GOES-R, GOES-S, GOES-T, and GOES-U. This program is a NOAA initiative, with support from NASA. The management of the GOES-R Series Program involves an integrated office jointly staffed by NOAA and NASA personnel. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is responsible for overseeing the procurement of the GOES-R spacecraft and instruments, while NASA’s Kennedy Space Center manages the launch services. NOAA, on the other hand, manages the ground system, operates the satellites, and disseminates their data to users worldwide.

The GOES-R Series maintains the operational system used by previous GOES satellites, consisting of two satellites. However, the operational locations for the GOES-R Series satellites are situated at 75.2⁰ W and 137.2⁰ W, as opposed to the previous positions of 75⁰ W and 135⁰ W. This shift was made to prevent conflicts with other satellite systems. Additionally, NOAA maintains an on-orbit spare GOES satellite positioned at 105⁰ W to be deployed in the event of an anomaly or failure of either GOES East or GOES West.

SatelliteStatusLaunch DateLauncherLaunch Provider
NOAA-1 (ITOS-A)DecommissionedDec 11th, 1970Delta-N6Mc-Douglas USA
NOAA-2 (ITOS-D)DecommissionedOct 15th, 1972Delta-300Mc-Douglas USA
NOAA-3 (ITOS-F)DecommissionedNov 6th, 1973Delta-300Mc-Douglas USA
NOAA-4 (ITOS-G)DecommissionedNov 15th, 1974Delta-2310Mc-Douglas USA
NOAA-5 (ITOS-H)DecommissionedJul 29th, 1976Delta-2310Mc-Douglas USA
NOAA-6 (NOAA-A)DecommissionedJun 27th, 1979Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-7 (NOAA-C)DecommissionedJun 23rd, 1981Atlas-F StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-8 (NOAA-E)DecommissionedMar 28th, 1983Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-9 (NOAA-F)DecommissionedDec 12th, 1984Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-10 (NOAA-G)DecommissionedSep 17th, 1986Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-11 (NOAA-H)DecommissionedSep 24, 1988Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-12 (NOAA-D)DecommissionedMay 14, 1991Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-13 (NOAA-I)DecommissionedAug 9, 1993Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-14 (NOAA-J)DecommissionedDec 30, 1994Atlas-E StarGeneral Dynamics
NOAA-15 (NOAA-K)DecommissionedMay 13, 1998Titan-23GLockheed Martin
NOAA-16 (NOAA-L)DecommissionedSep 21, 2000Titan-23GLockheed Martin
NOAA-17 (NOAA-M)DecommissionedJun 24, 2002Titan-23GLockheed Martin
NOAA-18 (NOAA-N)ActiveMay 20, 2005Delta IIULA USA
NOAA-19 (NOAA-N Prime)ActiveFeb 6, 2009Delta IIULA USA
NOAA-20 (JPSS-1)ActiveNov 18, 2017Delta IIULA USA
NOAA-21 (JPSS-2)ActiveNov 10, 2022Atlas VULA USA
GOES-A (GOES-1)DecommissionedOct 16, 1975Delta-2914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-B (GOES-2)DecommissionedJun 16, 1977Delta-2914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-C (GOES-3)DecommissionedJun 16, 1978Delta-2914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-D (GOES-4)DecommissionedSep 9, 1980Delta-3914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-E (GOES-5)DecommissionedMay 22, 1981Delta-3914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-F (GOES-6)DecommissionedApr 28, 1983Delta-3914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-GFailedMay 3, 1986Delta-3914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-H (GOES-7)DecommissionedFeb 26, 1987Delta-3914Mc-Douglas USA
GOES-I (GOES-8)DecommissionedApr 13, 1994Atlas IGeneral Dynamics
GOES-J (GOES-9)DecommissionedDec 30, 1994Atlas IGeneral Dynamics
GOES-K (GOES-10)DecommissionedApr 25, 1997Atlas IGeneral Dynamics
GOES-L (GOES-11)DecommissionedMay 3, 2000Atlas IIAGeneral Dynamics
GOES-M (GOES-12)DecommissionedJul 23, 2001Atlas IIAGeneral Dynamics
GOES-N (GOES-13)Transferred in 2018 to
May 24, 2006Delta IVULA USA
GOES-O (GOES-14)On-orbit storageJun 27, 2009Delta IVULA USA
GOES-P (GOES-15) Transferred in 2023 to
Mar 4, 2010Delta IVULA USA
GOES-R (GOES-16)In operation as
Nov 19, 2016Atlas VULA USA
GOES-S (GOES-17)Back-up for
GOES-East & -West
Mar 1, 2018Atlas VULA USA
GOES-T (GOES-18)In operation as
Mar 1, 2022Atlas VULA USA
GOES-U (GOES-19)Jun 25, 2024Falcon HeavySpaceX USA

Company History

NOAA has a rich historical lineage, with roots in several federal agencies, some of which were among the oldest in the United States government:

The most direct precursor to NOAA was the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA), which absorbed several existing scientific agencies, including the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, the Weather Bureau, and the uniformed Corps, in 1965.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was officially established within the Department of Commerce through Reorganization Plan No. 4 and came into being on October 3rd, 1970. This move followed a proposal by President Richard Nixon, who envisioned a new agency to address national needs for “better protection of life and property from natural hazards…for a better understanding of the total environment…and for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources.” Interestingly, NOAA became part of the Department of Commerce rather than the Department of the Interior due to a disagreement between President Nixon and his Interior Secretary, Wally Hickel, regarding the Nixon Administration’s Vietnam War policy. This decision stemmed from Nixon’s dissatisfaction with Hickel’s letter urging him to listen to Vietnam War demonstrators, resulting in NOAA being placed under the Department of Commerce.

In 2007, NOAA commemorated its bicentennial, marking 200 years of service since its predecessor, the United States Survey of the Coast, was established.

As of 2021, NOAA boasted a workforce of 11,833 civilian employees, supported by 321 uniformed service members who comprise the NOAA Commissioned Corps.

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