Kathy Winters is an Air Force Civilian Meteorologist at the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. She is the Space Shuttle Launch Weather Officer providing weather support to the Space Shuttle Program at Kennedy Space Center as the Launch Team prepares for the 29 April 2011 launch of Endeavour. You can find out more about the 45th Space Wing at their Facebook page.
It’s launch week and the 45th Weather Squadron is ready! Not only is our team here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ready to go, but so are our 45th Weather Squadron team members overseas. Our personnel at the Trans-oceanic Abort Landing sites release weather balloons and take surface weather observations. They provide the data from these observations to the Shuttle Flight team at Johnson Space Center.
Here at the Cape, we issue several forecasts the week of launch including our launch forecast, the Shuttle Ice Team forecast, the solid rocket recovery forecast, and the Rotating Service Structure retract (RSS) forecast. We also continue to issue weather watches, warnings, and advisories so the team at the launch pad is aware of any dangerous weather conditions during pre-launch preparations.
We begin issuing daily Shuttle launch forecasts L-3 days before launch. Although the 45th Weather Squadron issues the launch forecast, we do so in coordination with Spaceflight Meteorology Group since they are responsible for the Return to Launch Site (RTLS) abort landing weather forecast. The launch forecast states the “Probability of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) weather prohibiting launch,” and this probability includes both the probability of violation the Launch Commit Criteria (PDF) for the Shuttle launch pad (complex 39A) and the RTLS Abort Landing Weather for the Shuttle landing Facility at KSC. The forecast is only for these KSC locations, and does not include the Trans-oceanic Abort Landing Site forecasts, which are issued separately by Spaceflight Meteorology Group.
You can view our launch forecast at the 45th Weather Squadron web page.
On launch day, we will use a large suite of instrumentation on the Eastern Range to evaluate launch commit criteria as well as NASA weather aircraft. The 45th Weather Squadron will observe each Weather Launch Commit Criteria as either RED or GREEN, and Spaceflight Meteorology Group will forecast the launch weather as either GO or NO GO.
Check out this page for a video with details on our launch week forecasts, instrumentation, and LCC evaluation.