Best weather satellite ever built rockets into space

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Best weather satellite ever built rockets into space : CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The most advanced weather satellite ever built rocketed into space Saturday night, part of an $11 billion effort to revolutionize forecasting and save lives.

This new GOES-R spacecraft will track U.S. weather as never before: hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, volcanic ash clouds, wildfires, lightning storms, even solar flares. Indeed, about 50 TV meteorologists from around the country converged on the launch site — including NBC’s Al Roker — along with 8,000 space program workers and guests.

“What’s so exciting is that we’re going to be getting more data, more often, much more detailed, higher resolution,” Roker said. In the case of tornadoes, “if we can give people another 10, 15, 20 minutes, we’re talking about lives being saved.”

Think superhero speed and accuracy for forecasting. Super high-definition TV, versus black-and-white. “Really a quantum leap above any satellite NOAA has ever flown,” said Stephen Volz, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s director of satellites.

“For the American public, that will mean faster, more accurate weather forecasts and warnings,” Volz said earlier in the week. “That also will mean more lives saved and better environmental intelligence” for government officials responsible for hurricane and other evacuations.

Airline passengers also stand to benefit, as do rocket launch teams. Improved forecasting will help pilots avoid bad weather and help rocket scientists know when to call off a launch.

The first in a series of four high-tech satellites, GOES-R hitched a ride on an unmanned Atlas V rocket, delayed an hour by rocket and other problems. NOAA teamed up with NASA for the mission.