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Artist's impression of an SMS-series GOES satellite in orbit
Mission typeWeather satellite
COSPAR ID1978-062A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.10953Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration38 years
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeSMS
ManufacturerFord Aerospace
Launch mass627 kilograms (1,382 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date16 June 1978, 10:49 (1978-06-16UTC10:49Z) UTC
RocketDelta 2914
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-17B
ContractorMcDonnell Douglas
End of mission
Deactivated29 June 2016 (2016-06-30)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Longitude135° West (1978-1981)
90° West (1982-1984)
185° West (1985-1987)
129° West (1987-1990)
175° West (1990-1995)
102-110° West (1996—)[1][2]
SlotGOES-WEST (1978-1981)
Perigee altitude35,469.10[4] kilometers (22,039.48 mi)
Apogee altitude36,679.20[4] kilometers (22,791.40 mi)
Inclination7.100[3] degrees
Period24 hours

GOES-3, known as GOES-C before becoming operational, was an American geostationary weather and communications satellite. It was originally built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system,[5] and was launched in June 1978.[6] It was positioned in geostationary orbit, from where it was initially used for weather forecasting in the United States. Since ceasing to function as a weather satellite in 1989, it was used as a communications satellite, and spent over thirty-eight years in operation. GOES-3 was decommissioned 29 June 2016 at the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing facility in Miami, Florida.[7]

GOES-3 was built by Ford Aerospace, and was based on the satellite bus developed for the SMS programme.[8] At launch it had a mass of 627 kilograms (1,382 lb).[2]


GOES-C was launched using a Delta 2914 carrier rocket flying from Launch Complex 17B at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.[2] The launch occurred at 10:49 GMT on 16 June 1978, just two minutes short of a year after the previous satellite, GOES-2.[6]


GOES-C on a Delta 2914 before launch

The launch successfully placed GOES-C into a geostationary transfer orbit, from which it raised itself to geostationary orbit using an onboard SVM-5 apogee motor. Its insertion into geosynchronous orbit occurred at 03:22 on 17 June.[1]

GOES-C underwent on-orbit testing, and was subsequently redesignated GOES-3. It replaced GOES 1 in service, and was initially operated at 135° West. In 1981, it was moved to 90° West, arriving in 1982, before departing again in 1984. In 1985 it arrived back at 135° West. In 1987 it was moved to 129° West, where it operated until it became unusable for meteorological studies in 1989.

After ceasing operations as a weather satellite, GOES-3 was reassigned for use as a communications satellite. In 1990, it was relocated to 175° West, and in 1995 it was moved again, and was stationed between 102° and 110° West since 1996. Organisations which used GOES-3 for communications included Peacesat, who used it to provide communications services to islands in the Pacific Ocean;[9] the University of Hawaii who used it to broadcast educational programmes;[5] the US National Science Foundation, who used it for communications with the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station;[10] and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Index". Geostationary Orbit Catalog. Jonathan's Space Page. Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Wade, Mark. "GOES". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on February 21, 2002. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  3. ^ a b NASA.gov
  4. ^ a b "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Telemetry Details".
  5. ^ a b "GOES-3". The GOES Program - ESE 40th Anniversary. NASA. Archived from the original on October 4, 2006. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  6. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  7. ^ "Goes-3 Satellite Decommissioned After Linking Antarctica To The World For More Than 20 Years". University of Miami. Archived from the original on August 28, 2017. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  8. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "SMS 1, 2 / GOES-1, 2, 3". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
  9. ^ "GOES-7 TRANSITIONED TO HAWAII FOR USE BY PEACESAT STATION, NOAA ANNOUNCES". NOAA. June 15, 1999. Archived from the original on December 11, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
  10. ^ "Outliving expectations: Marisat-F2 satellite held on for 32 years, served South Pole for 8". Spaceref. December 12, 2008. Retrieved August 14, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "UCS Satellite Database". Union of Concerned Scientists. July 1, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2009.