GOES-R Integration & Testing
Built on the proven Lockheed Martin A2100 satellite platform, GOES-R will feature advanced instrument capabilities, including more visible and infrared channels, four times the imaging resolution and new lightning detection technology. The spacecraft is built in three different locations with instruments coming from even more locations all over the country. The system module and core module are built and partially populated in Newtown, PA, and Stennis, MS, respectively. When Newtown and Stennis have completed their work, each module is shipped to Denver, CO, where the modules are integrated and several installs must take place. Items to install in Denver include electrical boxes, reaction wheels, antenna wing, Earth Pointing Platform (EPP), Sun Pointing Platform (SPP), X-band antenna, GPS antenna, and SAR antennas. Sequence of operations is very important due to the geometry of the core module fitting inside of the system module, access issues, and the large size of the satellite. The stowed satellite envelope is approximately 7'x10'x16' with the solar array itself being some 12.5 feet tall. This has required the design and fabrication of a large quantity of mechanical ground support equipment. The successful operation of the majority of the instruments requires a stable platform. This requirement drives a number of design features which present challenges to the integration and test team. The Earth Pointing Platform (EPP) must be isolated from any movement in the rest of the spacecraft, but the harnesses must route from the electrical boxes on the spacecraft to the instruments mounted on the EPP without initiating motion of the platform. The Sun Pointing Platform (SPP) is installed between the spacecraft and the solar array and hosts two vital instruments which must be perfectly aligned during installation. The SPP is deployed along with the solar array by means of a motor which also must channel harness to communicate with instruments installed on the SPP. There are two motors which maintain sun pointing within a tight tolerance for the solar array and the SPP to enable successful instrument performance. The installation of the motors requires precise laser measurements to allow for alignment to the instruments. Finally the avionics and power system contained in the electrical boxes must be linked to the antennas and instruments with a complex network of harnesses. The harnesses must be electrically grounded and attached to the spacecraft to prevent any excessive movement during launch. The current build is only the beginning. NASA, who partners with NOAA in the acquisition and development of the GOES-R series, exercised an option for Lockheed Martin to build two additional satellites, bringing the total number of satellites to be built to four. GOES-R will inaugurate a new generation of weather satellites, extending the lifetime of the GOES series to at least 2036.