12th Conference on Aviation Range and Aerospace Meteorology


An overview of Kodiak Launch Complex operational weather support for the Missile Defense Agency's Integrated Flight Test 13 and 14 launches

Gregory D. Wilke, SAIC, Cape Canaveral, FL

Kodiak Launch Complex (KLC), Kodiak, Alaska, is the first non-federally owned commercial spaceport in the United States, constructed in 1998 by the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation (AADC) and the State of Alaska. KLC is located at Narrow Cape, on the southeastern tip of Kodiak Island about 250 miles south of Anchorage and 45 miles south of Kodiak City. Kodiak Island is an ideal location for polar launch operations. With a wide launch azimuth range and unobstructed downrange flight paths, spacecraft up to 8000 lbs can be safely launched from KLC.

Meteorological phenomena can present a challenge to launching rockets in high-latitude coastal locations, such as Kodiak Island. Strong weather systems routinely develop in the Bering Sea and move through Kodiak Island and the Gulf of Alaska. These systems often bring strong winds, heavy rain, fog, snow, and thick cloud cover to Kodiak Island. While thunderstorms are very rare on Kodiak Island, the threat of a rocket triggering a lightning strike during launch is actually quite high because of the type and thickness of local clouds.

KLC's meteorological capability, initially developed by NASA/USAF for the Kodiak Star launch in September 2001, was greatly expanded to satisfy the increased launch weather support requirements for the Missile Defense Agency's Integrated Flight Test (IFT) -13 and IFT-14 launch campaigns. This paper describes KLC's extensive meteorological infrastructure and capabilities required for the planning, processing and successful launching of these rockets.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (172K)

Poster Session 10, Range and Aerospace Posters
Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 2:30 PM-4:00 PM, Exhibit Hall A2

Previous paper  Next paper

Browse or search entire meeting

AMS Home Page