GOES-R weather satellite rockets toward orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The most advanced weather satellite ever built is rocketing toward orbit, part of an $11 billion effort by the United States to revolutionize forecasting and save lives.

NASA launched the $1 billion satellite Saturday night for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. An unmanned Atlas rocket provided the lift from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The satellite will track U.S. weather as never before: hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning storms, even solar flares. It's aiming for a 22,300-mile-high orbit.

NBC's Al Roker and about 50 other TV meteorologists descended on Cape Canaveral for the launch, as well as 8,000 space program workers and guests.

The GOES-R is the first in a series of four new high-tech weather satellites. The acronym stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite.


Two-dozen meteorologists from around the country are on hand for the big event. The weather, appropriately enough, couldn't be better for launching.

GOES-R eventually will become known as GOES-16. It will join three other weather satellites already in orbit.