Journal article Open Access

Operations of the National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group

Brody, Frank C.; Lafosse, Richard A.; Bellue, Dan G.; Oram, Timothy D.

Weather is a significant aspect of most space shuttle launches and landings. The National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) at Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, provides weather forecasts and advice to support space shuttle operations. SMG has been an integral part of the flight control team in the Mission Control Center at JSC since 1962. Space shuttle weather support is quite complex and specialized, especially compared to more traditional weather forecast operations. SMG forecasts are compared to shuttle weather flight rules to advise the flight director on launch and landing decisions. Perhaps the most critical aspect of SMG's weather support is the "90-min forecast" issued prior to landing, supporting the Mission Control Center's "go" or "no-go" deorbit burn decision. Once the deorbit burn has occurred, the shuttle must land at the designated landing site at the designated time. SMG's forecast must be precise, accurate, and clearly communicated. Meteorological data acquisition and display is critical for analysis and forecasting, and for briefing the flight control team. Primary systems used are the Meteorological Interactive Data and Display System and the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler Principal User Processor. This article describes SMG functions, operations, data acquisition and display systems, and shuttle launch and landing weather forecast scenarios. Corresponding author address: Frank C. Brody, Spaceflight Meteorology Group, Johnson Space Center, Mail Code ZS8, Houston, TX 77058.
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