CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA launched another of the world’s most advanced weather satellites Thursday, this time to safeguard the western U.S.

The GOES-S satellite thundered toward orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket, slicing through a hazy late afternoon sky. Dozens of meteorologists gathered for the launch, including TV crews from the Weather Channel and WeatherNation.

GOES-S is the second satellite in an approximately $11 billion effort that’s already revolutionizing forecasting with astonishingly fast, crisp images of hurricanes, wildfires, floods, mudslides and other natural calamities.

The first spacecraft in the series, GOES-16, has been monitoring the Atlantic and East Coast for the past year for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The same first-class service is now coming to the Pacific region.

Besides the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, GOES-S also will keep watch over Mexico and Central America.

It will become GOES-17 once it reaches its intended 22,000-mile-high orbit over the equator in a few weeks, and should be officially operational by year’s end.

“We can’t wait!” tweeted the National Weather Service in Anchorage just before the rocket soared from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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