13th Conference on Applied Climatology and the 10th Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology

Tuesday, 14 May 2002: 2:00 PM
Modernization of the Space Launch Ranges Meteorological Subsystem Architecture
Timothy L. Wilfong, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, Santa Maria, CA; and P. Conant, K. Winters, and C. Crosiar
Poster PDF (102.7 kB)
Weather plays a critical role in the planning and execution of spacecraft launch operations. Each launch vehicle has specific tolerances for wind shear, which must be considered immediately prior to launch. Cloud cover, temperature profiles, and the presence of convective activity in the vicinity of the Range can be significant due to the potential for lightning strikes and electrostatic discharge. In the event of a launch mishap, toxic hydrazine clouds have the potential to endanger ground personnel. To protect personnel, high-resolution wind and stability information are required as input into atmospheric dispersion models used for risk-mitigation prior to launch and as an emergency response tool. Comprehensive operational meteorological services for the Eastern and Western Space Launch Ranges are provided by the United States Air Force. In addition to launch processing, these services include weather support for personnel and resource protection and aviation flight services. In the mid-1990s, the Air Force began an effort to modernize the two ranges. The new architecture now being deployed acquires data from scores of local instruments including tower mounted anemometers, temperature and humidify sensors, soil moisture sensors, wind profilers, mini-sodars, upper-air systems, NEXRAD, ASOS, and several lightning detection systems. This paper addresses the weather subsystem architecture which integrates the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) along with a mesoscale modeling system to assimilate local and national data to produce decision products designed to support range operations.

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