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GFO [Ball]

The US Navy GFO (Geosat Follow On), is a 369 kg minisatellite based on the Techstar platform to carry on the mission of Geosat. It was launched on the 10th February 1998 on a Taurus-2210 from VAFB alongside two Orbcomm satellites, into a 789 × 881 km (779 × 790 km planned) 108 degree inclined orbit.

The missions follows the 1985 Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab built Geosat mission. It carries a precise radar altimeter (<5 cm) to measure small changes in sea surface heights associated with ocean circulation. The altimeter was supplied by Raytheon. A microwave radiometer is also carried supplied by AIL systems Inc. The spacecraft has 96Mbytes of on-board storage, and will generate up to 126W orbit average power. Ball Aerospace built the spacecraft, which has a contractual mission lifetime of 5 years, a mission design lifetime of 8 years. The spacecraft cost was US$ 46m and the contract was awarded in 1992.

GFO operated for nearly 11 years until 2008. A follow-on mission, GFO-2, was planned to be launched in 2014, but procurement of the satellite was deferred until 2016.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Altimetry
Operator: US Navy
Contractors: Ball Aerospace
Equipment: Radio altimeter, microwave radiometer
Configuration: BCP-600 (formerly called Techstar)
Propulsion: ?
Power: Solar array, batteries
Lifetime: 5 years planned, 10 years reached
Mass: 410 kg
Orbit: 775 km × 878 km, 108
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
GFO 1998-007A 10.02.1998 Va 576E Taurus-2210 with Orbcomm FM3, FM4, Celestis 03


  • Ball Aerospace: GFO
Further Geosat / GFO missions:

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