822 NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group Weather Support in the Post Space Shuttle Era

Thursday, 10 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Frank C. Brody, NOAA/NWS, Houston, TX; and M. Kocen

Handout (1.3 MB)

From 1981 to 2011 the NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) provided weather decision support and meteorological consultation to the NASA Space Shuttle program for all Shuttle missions. Meteorological support to NASA has changed dramatically in the post Space Shuttle era. The SMG supports three primary NASA customers: the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program (also known as Orion), the International Space Station Program, and the Johnson Space Center. This presentation will describe some of the unique requirements and weather decision support scenarios for each customer. NASA's Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle support focuses mostly on the planned Exploration Flight Test 1 scheduled for late 2014, when an un-crewed Orion capsule will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and land in the Pacific Ocean about 200 miles west-northwest of the southern tip of Baja, Mexico. The SMG provides consultation related to weather flight rules and for recovery ship observation requirements. The SMG will also provide support to the Mission Control Center for the landing forecast of the planned flight test. The International Space Station Program support focuses on forecasts for NASA aircraft flying between Houston, Texas, and Kazakhstan, where the Russian Soyuz space vehicle is launched and lands. Weather support to the Johnson Space Center in Houston focuses on advisories and briefings on various local weather hazards, such as lightning, severe thunderstorms storms, flooding, winter weather, and tropical cyclones. In addition, the SMG supports weather sensitive NASA projects at the Johnson Space Center including test firings of the Project Morpheus lander, which integrates technologies that someday could be used to build future spacecraft destined for asteroids, Mars or the moon.

The reduction in the SMG staffing from 10 meteorologists during the Shuttle era to two meteorologists in 2012 has created additional unique challenges and support concepts.

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