321 Ground-Based Remote Sensing Techniques for Space Launch Decision Support

Monday, 8 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Tim Wilfong, Radiometrics Corporation, Boulder, CO; and D. Berchoff, K. Brewster, F. H. Carr, N. A. Gasperoni, E. Lau, S. A. McLaughlin, R. Ware, and M. Xue

Orbital space launches are becoming increasingly more frequent. Launch safety and efficiency requires timely and accurate wind and thermodynamic profiles from the surface to 20 km or more in height as well as identification of launch hazards such as the risk of triggered and natural lightning. Ground-based remote sensing techniques including radar wind profilers (RWP) and microwave thermodynamic profilers (MTP) can provide a continuous and accurate representation of the atmosphere along the launch trajectory in both clear and cloudy conditions. Reliably reaching 20 km in altitude is challenging especially for the MTP technology. However, when blended with model analyses such as the Rapid Refresh (RAP) model, profiles can be extended to 20 km and beyond. In this paper we explore an innovative decision support system that combines thermodynamics from MTP instruments, Doppler wind radar profiles and RAP soundings to produce continuous radiosonde-like observations. This information also has the potential to support launch operations by providing the decision support team with continuous Launch Commit Criteria parameters.
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