Nasa has awarded a contract to US-based United Launch Services (ULS) for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) mission.

The GOES-T launch mission is projected to cost around $165.7m.

The mission is currently scheduled for launch in December 2021 on an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

ULA president and chief executive officer Tory Bruno said: “ULA is pleased once again to be selected to launch a GOES mission and we look forward to working with our mission partners from Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for this important launch.

“ULA and its heritage vehicles have a long history with the GOES programme and have launched all 17 operational missions to date.”

GOES-T is the third spacecraft in the next-generation GOES-R series of geostationary weather satellites that include GOES-R, S, T, and U.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the GOES-R series satellites are designed to provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment.

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It will also provide total lightning activity mapping in real-time, as well as improved solar activity and space weather monitoring.

The GOES-R programme is managed by NOAA.

In 2016, NOAA’s GOES-R weather satellite was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket.

The GOES-R Flight Projects Office is managed by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

GOES-R provides better quality, quantity and timeliness of weather data over the Western Hemisphere.

The geostationary satellite experiment first started in 1966 when the first satellite of the Applications Technology Satellite (ATS) series, ATS-1, was launched on 7 December 1966.