Ensuring Environmental Safety for Space Launch

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Wednesday, 1 February 2006: 4:15 PM
Ensuring Environmental Safety for Space Launch
A301 (Georgia World Congress Center)
B. F. Boyd, 45th Weather Squadron, Patrick AFB, FL; and M. E. Fitzpatrick, C. R. Parks, P. N. Rosati, and R. W. Lamoreaux

Presentation PDF (628.3 kB)

The Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron (45 WS) provides comprehensive operational meteorological services to the Eastern Range and the Kennedy Space Center. These services include weather support for resource protection, pre-launch ground processing and day-of-launch operations for over 30 launches per year by the Department of Defense (DOD), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and commercial launch customers. To ensure safety of government personnel and the civilian population, the Safety Office of the Eastern Range must ingest weather data into physical models which, in turn, assess the safety risk of each operation. Additionally, for launches with radioactive material, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides radioactive fallout predictions.

Most weather support, in essence, is to assure safety of resources -- people and material. However, this paper addresses the team work required between the 45 Weather Squadron and two other organizations the 45 Space Wing Range Safety Office and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the following areas:

(1) weather data input to models which in turn determine potential toxic hazard corridors for: ground processing operations, nominal launch operations, and catastrophic launch failures; (2) weather data required for the Range Safety model to forecast blast overpressure predictions in case of an accident; and (3) weather data input to models which in turn forecast potential radioactive fallout.

Type, source, and importance of weather data for each of these specific areas of support are described. The models used are discussed and examples of weather input requirements and the model output data are presented.