Monday, February 21, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery a "GO" Weatherwise

Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to take off this Thursday at 4:50 pm. A possible weather hindrance is the wind. Winds, on Thursday, will be sustained of between 20 and 25 mph. This is just below the threshold of around 27 mph. Besides wind, weather conditions look like they could not be any better. So far, the space shuttle has been given  an 70% "go" for launch.

The basic weather launch commit criteria on the pad at liftoff must be:

  • Launch can not take off is 24 hour average temperature has been below 41 degrees.
  • The peak wind speed allowable is 30 knots. 
  • When the wind direction is between 100 degrees and 260 degrees, the peak speed varies for each mission and may be as low as 24 knots.
  • None at the launch pad or within the flight path.
  • Do not launch if lightning has been detected within 10 nautical miles of the pad or the planned flight path within 30 minutes prior to launch.
  • Direct visual observation of the Shuttle is required through 8,000 feet. This requirement may be satisfied using optical tracking sites or a forward observer
  • the vehicle integrity can be observed without interruption through 6,000 feet.
  • the thickness of the clouds must be less than 500 feet

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