Space

The US Space Force is using a repurposed civilian satellite for weather data

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force can now collect critical weather data from a repurposed government satellite, the armed service announced Sept. 8, ensuring that war fighters have an accurate picture of what’s happening over the Indian Ocean.

The Space Force declared initial operational capability of the Electro-optical Infrared Weather System Geostationary satellite, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite known as GOES-13.

The EWS-G1 satellite will now provide cloud characterization and theater weather imagery of the Indian Ocean region to the Department of Defense, filling a critical gap between the end of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and the launch of a new constellation of weather satellites operating in low Earth orbit.

“EWS-G1 is a prime example of innovation and the leveraging of partnerships. SMC partnered with NOAA and NASA to deliver critically needed Geostationary visible and infrared cloud characterization and theater weather imagery in the Indian Ocean region. This effort demonstrates speed by allowing the spacecraft to be moved and operated in the Indian Ocean region far earlier than a new satellite could be produced and fielded,” said Charlotte Gerhart, the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Production Corps Low Earth Orbit Division chief. “The repurposing of GOES-13, and residual NOAA ground equipment, accomplished the mission at a fraction of the procurement cost of a brand new system.”

Initially launched in 2006, GOES-13 provided weather coverage of the American East Coast for 10 years before being replaced. No longer needed by NOAA, it was transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 2019. It was then relocated to its new position, where NOAA and the Space Force completed a thorough review of the satellite and its sensors. The satellite is currently providing weather data to the DoD, although the NOAA will continue to operate it on behalf of the Space Force.

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