Skip to main content

Former NOAA satellite repurposed to provide weather data for the US military

Originally launched in 2006, GOES-13 was a geostationary satellite designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track hurricanes approaching the United States. On September 1, the US military repurposed the satellite to monitor weather conditions in the Middle East.

The satellite, formally known as GOES-13, under military control, is now named EWS-G1. This stands for Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System — Geostationary. Now, serving an equally important role, EWS-G1 will “collect weather imagery to enable fielded forces to perform environmental reconnaissance and cloud characterization over the Indian Ocean region.”

A weather image captured by GOES-13

Transitioning the NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite over to the US military was apparently in the works since 2017. This is when the US Air Force first revealed that it was talking with NOAA about the possibility of taking over one of the agency’s satellites. About a year after these talks began, in 2018, NOAA officially decommissioned GOES-13 and replaced it with GOES-16.

The US military benefited immensely from repurposing GOES-13 as opposed to producing and launching their own satellite to do the job. It cut down significantly on the time, cost, and difficulty of getting a satellite over the Indian Ocean region. This was a desperately needed move, seeing how the US military had been using aging European weather satellites for the job prior to this change.

EWS-G1 now technically falls under the umbrella of the US Space Force. Despite this, they will not be the ones operating the satellite. That job will still be done by the NOAA for the remainder of the satellite’s life.

Via Spaceflight Now



Avatar for Nicholas Terry Nicholas Terry

Nick has a love for technology, cars, and space.