United Launch Alliance launched its Atlas V rocket Thursday and delivered a state-of-the-art satellite to space.

The Atlas V rocket blasted off at 5:02 p.m. and carried a weather satellite for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The spacecraft, called the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system, or GOES-S, is the second in a series of weather satellites that will provide faster and more reliable information and data for tracking wildfires, hurricanes and storm systems threatening the western U.S., Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, Central America and the Pacific Rim reaching to New Zealand.

"It has four times the resolution, imagine a grainy picture like on TV, this is HD, versus the old TVs," said Ajay Mehta with NOAA Satellite Information Service. "Better resolution, and that's important, because we are now going to be able to look at storms on a local level."

And talk about a safety net.

The satellite has a receiver that can track a hiker or fisherman who gets lost in a remote area.

The person hits a special beacon and help is on the way.

"If you are a fisherman up in the Bering Sea, you can hit your indicator and it starts to mount the search for you at that point," said Jeff Shook with the Lockheed Martin GOES Program.

After the satellite gets to its planned orbit, it will be renamed the "GOES-West" and partner with the GOES-East, already in space, to oversee weather in the target area for the next three decades.

The more than 100-foot-tall Atlas V lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41.

The next Space Coast launch is scheduled for April 2nd, as Space X will be launching a cargo mission to the International Space Station for NASA.


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