An International Launch Services Atlas IIA booster was launched from Pad B of Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral on 21 July, carrying the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES 12.

The $380 million spacecraft will be an in-orbit back-up until called into service. GOES 11 is already in place as a back-up to the two primary spacecraft over the east coast of the USA and the Atlantic Ocean, and the west coast and the Pacific. GOES 12 is the first of the series to carry an X-ray telescope which will monitor the sun's atmosphere once a minute to warn of geomagnetism and storms.

The launch was the 21st consecutive success by an Atlas 2A with no failures. The other operational Atlas 2, the 2AS had 22 successes.

Source: Flight International