Poster Session P7.1 Weather Support For The Cassini Mission To Saturn

Wednesday, 6 October 2004
Billie F. Boyd, U.S. Air Force/45th Weather Squadron, Patrick AFB, FL; and J. W. Weems and W. P. Roeder

Handout (1.7 MB)

The Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron (45 WS) provides comprehensive operational meteorological services to the Eastern Range (ER) and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Weather impacts, such as natural and triggered lightning, precipitation, cloud ceilings, visibility, and both surface and upper-level winds, present a significant challenge to spacelift -- over the last 10 years, 52 percent of all scrubbed launch countdowns have been due to weather conditions.

Launches with nuclear material, such as planetary missions with nuclear power for the spacecraft, introduce an additional concern—the possibility of radioactive fallout in case of a catastrophic failure. Therefore, these launches require an additional level of specialized weather support to ensure risk to the general public is held to an absolute minimum.

This paper discusses the long-range planning necessary to acquire Presidential approval for missions with nuclear-powered spacecraft via the Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Panel process and the roles and missions of various agencies to assess the radioactive hazards during the launch of one such mission – Cassini – which after an almost seven year journey reaches Saturn this year.

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