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SMS 1, 2 / GOES 1, 2, 3


The SMS (Synchronous Meteorological Satellite), later GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites), series was the first series of geostationary meteorological satellites.

The spin-stabilized, geo-synchronous spacecraft carried:

  • a visible infrared spin-scan radiometer (VISSR) which provided high-quality day/night cloudcover data and made radiance temperatures of the earth/atmosphere system,
  • a meteorological data collection and transmission system which relayed processed data from central weather facilities to small APT-equipped regional stations and collected and retransmitted data from remotely located earth-based platforms, and
  • a space environmental monitor (SEM) which measured proton, electron, and solar X-ray fluxes and magnetic fields.

The cylindrically shaped spacecraft measured 190.5 cm in diameter and 230 cm in length, exclusive of a magnetometer that extended an additional 83 cm beyond the cylinder shell. The primary structural members were a honeycombed equipment shelf and a thrust tube. The VISSR telescope was mounted on the equipment shelf and viewed the earth through a special aperture in the side of the spacecraft. A support structure extended radially out from the thrust tube and was affixed to the solar panels, which formed the outer walls of the spacecraft and provided the primary source of electrical power. Located in the annulus-shaped space between the thrust tube and the solar panels were station-keeping and dynamics control equipment, batteries, and most of the SEM equipment. Proper spacecraft attitude and spin rate (approximately 100 rpm) were maintained by two separate sets of jet thrusters mounted around the spacecraft equator and activated by ground command. The spacecraft used both UHF and S-band frequencies in its telemetry and command subsystem. A low-power VHF transponder provided telemetry and command during launch and then served as a backup for the primary subsystem once the spacecraft had attained synchronous orbit.

Beginning with the third spacecraft the series was renamed GOES.

GOES 3 was deactivated in June 2016 after 38 years. Long after the imaging instrument failed, the satellite had been used for 21 years by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) for 21 years to link NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station with the outside world.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Meteorology
Operator: NASA (SMS) / NOAA (GOES)
Contractors: Philco-Ford
Equipment: ?
Propulsion: SVM-5
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Orbit: GEO
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
SMS 1 (SMS A) 1974-033A 17.05.1974 CC LC-17B Delta-2914
SMS 2 (SMS B) 1975-011A 06.02.1975 CC LC-17B Delta-2914
GOES 1 (GOES A, SMS C) 1975-100A 16.10.1975 CC LC-17B Delta-2914
GOES 2 (GOES B) 1977-048A 16.06.1977 CC LC-17B Delta-2914
GOES 3 (GOES C) 1978-062A 16.06.1978 CC LC-17B Delta-2914


  • NSSDC Master Catalog