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.
Weather Models as of 20 April, 2011
Shuttle Launch Weather Predictions:
Shuttle launch preparations continue and we are providing both general information about launch weather as well as specific information to the Space Shuttle team. I provide a weather briefing to the Launch Director every morning, and we are already looking ahead at next week’s launch weather. For predictions beyond seven days, we review the Global Forecast System (GFS) long-range model outputs which are updated every six hours. The meteorological model predictions for time periods beyond five days toggle around quite a bit. On Tuesday weather predictions for April 29th looked bad, but on Wednesday the 00Z and 06Z GFS model runs trended to a more favorable launch day weather prediction. Still, it’s too early to tell. Over the next week, we will watch each model run noting the consistency of the models as we approach launch. Our first launch forecast will be issued on April 26, three days prior to launch. (more…)
Kathy Winters is an Air Force Civilian Meteorologist in 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.
On Tuesday, April 12, NASA announced the facilities at which the four Shuttle orbiters would be on permanent display after the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program. This was an outdoor ceremony including over 500 people, and the orbiter processing facility for Atlantis was going to be opened, making Atlantis vulnerable to weather. The activities by the orbiter processing facility were expected to last a couple of hours followed on by a 4-hour picnic at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center.
Outdoor Announcement Ceremony from the KSC Multimedia Web site: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/index.cfm
The weather was unstable. A cold front was moving into Florida, causing a chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms, but it wasn’t a black and white weather scenario. This was the toughest type of weather forecast — the “iffy” ones. We met with the Atlantis Vehicle Flow Manager, Mrs. Angie Brewer, the day prior as well as the morning of the event for several weather briefings. After reviewing the model guidance with forecast upper air and stability data as well as releasing an additional weather balloon before the ceremony, the 45th Weather Squadron team determined the atmosphere was dry and would take some time to modify during the day. We also expected the southwest low-level wind flow to hold off the east coast sea breeze, a big weather maker for us when the conditions are ripe.
I provided our team’s forecast to the flow manager: Good weather for the announcement portion of the ceremony, but a 40% chance of rain and lightning for the picnic event at the end of the day. The team pressed on with the outdoor ceremonies with contingency plans for the outdoor picnic ready if needed. Overall, the weather held off until about an hour after the picnic when a thunderstorm moved through Kennedy Space Center. The ceremony and the picnic were a huge success. What a relief!
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Capt James Woodard is a 2006 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) who currently serves as an Air Force Mission Flight Control Officer and Range Control Officer for the 1st Range Operations Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. He is the Forward Observer Air for the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour for the STS-134 mission. James is also the Mission Flight Control Officer for the Atlas V, Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) mission on 6 May 2011.
Shuttle Discovery's Final Flight taken from Kennedy Space Center, 24 Feb 11 (Photo by Brad Swezey)
Range Safety is a risky business. Not only is the Air Force tasked with ensuring the protection of the six astronauts on board Space Transportation System-134, we are also responsible for protecting the general public from possible anomalies resulting from the launch vehicle they are manning. This responsibility, which is entrusted to Brigadier General Edwin Wilson (the Launch Decision Authority for the mission), requires several support positions to provide real-time data concerning the status of the mission. In support of this historic launch, I have the distinct honor and privilege of performing the duties of Forward Observer Air (FOA), which includes being one of the closest humans to the launch. This position, which is reserved exclusively for Shuttle launches, includes my reports on the integrity of the stack (i.e. I report whether or not the boosters, tank, and orbiter are still connected) during the early stages of the launch. The STS stack has four components including the orbiter, two solid rocket boosters, and the external fuel tank. I will act as the eyes of Mr. Tong Tang, the Mission Flight Control Officer (MFCO), when the Shuttle cannot be seen by forward ground observers, my ground counterparts, due to cloud layer obstruction.
Kathy Winters is an Air Force Civilian Meteorologist in 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.
45th Weather Squadron for STS-134
The launch of Endeavour is quickly approaching and I am about to set up on-console for the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, the astronaut crew’s dress rehearsal for our upcoming Space Shuttle launch scheduled for 29 April 2011. We’ve had a busy 48 hours! Severe weather impacted us the past couple of days, and just getting to the test today was a challenge. On Wednesday, a front migrated into Central Florida and then sat on top of us for 2 days! The first day, thunderstorms with high winds and hail impacted the Shuttle, and yesterday our squadron had lightning, hail, and high wind warnings issued all day, preventing the Shuttle team from getting the work done to prepare for the countdown test. We even issued two tornado warnings, and a funnel cloud was spotted near the launch pad. Storms marched over us one after another, and we had over 5 inches of rain at Kennedy Space Center. Luckily, we expected this weather, and the Shuttle team had the vehicle well protected.