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Appendix C Recommendations from the Report of the Space Shuttle Weather Forecasting Advisory Pane! to the NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight, October 1986 1. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration should establish a Weather Support Office at the top level of Shuttle oper- ations to plan, organize, focus, and direct the activities related to Space Shuttle weather support. The head of this office should be a senior atmospheric scientist or a senior technical manager with a strong operations background, who IS knowledgeable about opera- tional weather forecasting and research and development and who commands respect in the meteorological and NASA communities. Under the optimum organizational structure, the head of this once would have line authority for all Shuttle weather support person- ne! and programs. However, both the present and planned Shuttle launching ranges are operated by the Air Force to meet both Shuttle and additional requirements, and the Shuttle itself is operated by NASA. The pane! recognizes that the optimum arrangement may be impossible to implement in practice and reco~nmends that responsi- bility and authority for programs and personnel be consolidated in the Shuttle Weather Support Office to the extent possible. 2. There must be a small, highly qualified, well-trained, and dedicated team of forecasters who provide weather support for Shut- tle operations. These forecasters should be willing to be an integral part of the Shuttle team and remain so for extended periods (5 to 10 years). Steps should be taken to ensure their continuity and devotion to the task (by grade and/or salary adjustments or other incentives). 59
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60 3. To ensure that this team has the very latest research results and tools available and is trained to use these tools effectively, the head of the Weather Support Office should expand Techniques Tran- sition Units at each operational site. These units should consist of one or two highly competent applied meteorologists and one or more computer specialists to act as an interface between the research and development community and the Shuttle forecast team. 4. There should be a standing advisory pane! of experts to assist the Weather Support Office in charting its course, setting its priorities, and aiding in contacts with the Shuttle Program Office to secure continued support and visibility within NASA for the Space Shuttle weather effort. 5. The Meteorological Interactive Data Display System (MIDDS) can depict weather situations on a global basis. It is thus a key ingredient in forecasting and in communications of poten- tial hazards to decision makers. The system needs to be developed at Johnson Space Center (JSC), and eventually Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). At each site having weather support responsibilities, MIDDS must be maintained and periodically upgraded to ensure that it represents the state of the art in rapid data access, analysis, and display capabilities. 6. The Doppler radar requirement to aid in the detection and observation of weather developments should rely on the NEXRAD facility, which will be installed and operated by the National Weather Service near KSC. Research on the processing and application of Doppler radar data should precede the completion of that installation to ensure that the data can be utilized promptly. 7. The models that are used for Space Shuttle wind-Ioading calculations need to be reexamined in view of the availability of ground-based remote wind profilers and their planned installation at KSC. Because the panel was unable to obtain access to the relevant computer algorithms, it is not possible to comment here concerning the adequate accuracy and resolution of these profilers for wind Toad assessments. A thorough study of methods and modem for short- range wind forecasting should be undertaken with these and other technological advances under consideration, in view of the rapid wind profile changes under way preceding the Challenger launch. Rapid wind profile changes are undoubtedly common under many other weather situations. 8. The mesonetwork at KSC needs quaTity-control review and
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~1 probable augmentation for short-range wind and convective activity forecasts. 9. At KSC, airborne instrumentation ~ required to quantify the precipitation sizes that are observed over the launch site prior to launch to determine whether the precipitation may pose a threat to the orbiter thermal protection system. 10. A thorough study should be made of the available subsynop- tic and mesosc ale models to provide guidance to the Shuttle forecast team. Specific models should be selected and developed in parallel to ongoing operations. The use of such modem as forecasting aids may have near-term payoff. 11. Research on artificial intelligence (AT) at KSC should be con- tinued at a modestly supported research level until it can be shown to have real promise for the Shuttle forecast problem. Before investing significant resources in Al, it would be advisable to wait until some other group or agency has shown that this too] has potential for a simper type of forecast environment.