The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launched the third of four advanced GOES seasonal satellites into orbit.
Launched into space on Tuesday, the satellite will monitor the Pacific Ocean, Alaska, Hawaii and the western part of the United States.
The project is part of a 11 billion upgrade of weather forecasting infrastructure.
“The GOES series has been revolutionary for us in terms of surveillance,” said Steve Wales, senior manager of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
He added that storms and other environmental disasters, such as forest fires, which are a constant threat to the western states, would give experts a bigger picture of the situation in this hemisphere once the satellite becomes operational.
Atlas 5’s Russian-made RD-180 first stage engine took off at 4:38 p.m. Eastern time.
12 minutes later, the Atlas 5 Centar Second Stage completed the first of three engine fires.
The satellite was expected to be launched into space three and a half hours after launch.
The satellite will complete one revolution around the earth in 24 hours.