New Weather Sensing and Forecasting Capabilities for Ground-to-Space Operations

by C. Schutz, Francis W. Murray

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Certain weather variables exercise an important control over space operations, either by making a launch infeasible or by adversely affecting the space vehicle and its trajectory. Climatological studies and standard National Weather Service observations show that the normal range of variability due to location and season, even from day to day, precludes the forecasting of these variables sufficiently accurately for precise trajectory control. Several new systems are now becoming available for measuring wind and density (or providing the variables from which density can be computed) continuously and automatically: VAS, PROFILER, WINDSAT, and the next generation of weather satellites. Together, these systems offer the promise of continuous real-time monitoring of winds and air density throughout the part of the atmosphere that exercises the greatest influence on space operations.

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