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2 Organization of Weather Support Services Weather-related activities in support of space operations are conducted within a complex web of agency infrastructure. Several government agencies have responsibilities for operational weather observing and forecasting, among them the United States Air Force Air Weather Service (USAF/AWS), the National Weather Service/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NWS/NOAA), and the United States Army;Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory (White Sands, New Mexico). Private contractors are also used to take observations at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and NASA per- sonne! at KSC provide support services. The U.S. Naval Oceanog- raphy Command has responsibility for operational forecasts of sea conditions for recovery and rescue operations. Meteorological re- search is done in a number of laboratories within the Air Force, NOAA, and NASA, and by university and private contractors. The functional and fiscal hierarchies of meteorological support within these agencies are complex. Even though all of the agencies are funded by the same federal government and are working toward a common goal of excellence in providing weather services in support of space flight, in practice this does not ensure a well-coordinated effort. Many activities have evolved within individual subprograms of the organizational web, but, in the absence of an overall plan, serious gaps remain. The most fundamental conclusion of this report is that 20
21 meteorological research and operational support activities within the U.S. space program are not well coordinated. - The pane} is not alone in reaching this conclusion, as this view was expressed to us at the operational level within each of the weather support agencies. These people know what needs to be done, but lack the line responsibility or financial or manpower resources to do it. There must be significantly better overall organization of the various weather-related activities in support of space flight. NASA's Office of Space Flight (OSF) bears the responsibility for the construction, launch, control, and recovery of NASA's space vehicles. Within OSF there are separate programs for manned (Na- tional Space Transportation System, NSTS) and unmanned (ULV; or expendable, ELV) space flight, having common as well as unique weather sensitivities. In order to coordinate the weather-related activities for both manned and unmanned space vehicles, strong or- ganizational control must come from an office that has responsibility for both manned and unmanned space flight. An advisory committee described in Chapter 5 may facilitate the intragency coordination. The Weather Support Office (WSO) was created within the Of- fice of Space Flight late in 1987 and has the responsibility for creating a more organized program of meteorological support. Although the WSO is shown within the manned space flight chain of command in Figure 3, it ~ important that all other segments of the Office of Space Flight coordinate their requirements for meteorological su~ port through the WSO. To facilitate the organizational procedure, everyone involved in meteorological support for space flight must recognize that the Weather Support Office has responsibility for directing, coordinating, and Peering the operational and applied research activities in support of both manned and unmanned Space flight. The director of WSO shown seek to mobilize the wealth of tal- ent and facilities within NASA, USA]?/AWS, NOAA/NWS, and other government agencies and universities to address weather ellpport problems. The Weather Support Office must obtain a budget and exer- cise line-item authority to support and direct applied research efforts needed to solve operational weather problems.
22 Associate Administrator Office of Space Flight r National Space Transportation System NSTS | Opera tions | Utilization 1 = Weather Support Office WSO _ _ _ r JSC Projects KSC Projects l _. . Flight Sys tees, . . . Shuttle tJ nmanned Carrier Launch System=, Jehicles ,R EQU I R E M EN TS 1 1 LW= ~F 1 Space Shuttle , Expendable L . ILaunch Vehicles| Research . _ i ~ Development/ L Instrumentation r IMSEC NSTL National Space Technology Labs, FIGURE 3 Schematic diagram depicting the portion of the NASA OSE' or- ganizational hierarchy that is most concerned with weather support activities. Many additional offices exist at each level of the hierarchy, and at additional levels, which have not been shown. WEATHER OBS1:RVATIONS The space vehicle launch and landing sites within the United States are shown in Table 1. There are numerous additional landing sites overseas for manned vehicles. Manned (Space Shuttle) and un- manned vehicles are launched into near-equatorial orbits from KSC. Unmanned vehicles are launched into polar orbits from Vandenberg AFB. Smaller unmanned rockets are also released from Wallops I~ land, Virginia, but the pane! did not examine this program's weather support, which ~ provided by a private contractor. Launches may not proceed! without acceptable conditions at the launch site, at the scheduled landing site, and at other locations that would serve as landing sites in the event of abort once around (AOA), tran~AtIantic abort landings (TAI,j, or end of mission (EOM) deci- sions.
23 TABLE 1 Launch and Landing Sites Within the United States Launch Landing Kennedy Space Center, Florida (KSC) Vandenberg AFB, California Edwards AFB, California White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico Wallops Island, Virginia X X X XX X Detachments of the USAF/AWS are responsible for meteorolog- ical observations at the launch and landing sites, except for White Sands, which is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory. AWS also has the responsibility for weather observations at most of the other worldwide landing sites for manned vehicles. At KSC, the AWS uses a contractor, Pan American, to the surface and upper-a~r weather observations and service the field mall network and a number of other weather sensors deployed around KSC. These are described ~ Chapter 3. The weather observations required for the space program are not routine. Many of the measurement systems are at the forefront of atmospheric science today. Thus the observers and maintenance personnel must be specifically qualified. The total NASA observation and instrumentation program is not as well organized and supervised as it should be. For example, there is a lack of quality control: the one electric field mill site the pane! was shown at KSC could not work properly because the sensor was mounted ~rnproperly and was too close to an electrical outlet and a rope fence. For another example, an aircraft is flown prior to each shuttle launch with minimal instrumentation; yet this same aircraft could be instrumented to make measurements of the electric fields in various types of clouds. The second example also illustrates a more widespread problem: although there ~ a wealth of talent and facilities within the agencies involved with the space program, the resources have not been adequately mobilized toward addressing operational weather problems at KSC. The Weather Support Office should periodically (1) assess whether or not weather observations and observers meet the
24 needs of the space program, (2) conduct thorough inspec- tions to determine if obeer~mg systems are properly config- ured, calibrated, and maintained, (3) ascertain whether or not available resources are being fillly wed to support space flight, and (~) tale actions to correct any problems identified. WEATHER ANALYSIS AND FORECASTING At KSC, weather analysis and forecasting for daily ground oper- ations, launches, and air-sea rescue efforts are the responsibilities of the Air Weather Service, 4th Weather Wing, 2nd Weather Squadron, Detachment 11, Patrick Air Force Base, and Cape Canaveral Forecast Facility. An exception is that Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) analyzes the prelaunch sounding data and furnishes them to lSC for use in the computer programs that calculate loads (stress/torque) on the launch vehicle. Because of the large number of daily weather-sensitive activities and because both civilian (20 percent) and military (80 percent) vehicles are launched from KSC, the amount of work required is considerable. AWS officers and enlisted personnel, most reassigned at 2- to 3-year intervals, and two "permanent" civilians make up the weather forecasting staff at the Cape Canaveral Forecast Facility, which services KSC. Forecasts for unmanned launches are the re- sponsibility of the AWS detachments at the launch site, either Cape Canaveral Forecast Facility or Vandenberg Environmental Support Center. Forecasts for occasions when the Space Shuttle is ferried from its landing site back to KSC are also the responsibility of AWS. Once a Space Shuttle is launched, control of the mission trans- fers from KSC to DISC. Weather forecasting responsibility, even in the event of RTES (Return to Launch Site, or emission abort") or over-water ditching, rests with the NWS/NOAA Spaceflight Meteo- rology Group at JSC, although they coordinate and collaborate with their AWS counterparts at KSC. The NWS/NOAA team also has forecasting responsibility for all worIdw~de landing sites. A team of nine meteorologists makes up the staff of the weather office of the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at ~SC, of which three are primarily responsible for managing the Meteorological Interac- tive Data Display System (MIDDS), applications programming, and technology transfer. These three meteorologists constitute the Tech- nique Development Unit at JSC, but when the pane! visited JSC only one had been hired. When the Space Shuttle program resumes more
25 frequent launches, and in order to effectively use new techniques and technology proposed later in this report, the size of the staff win need to be increased. The director of WSO chomp (1) ensure that forecast office staffing at aB sites is adequate for the "signed talks, es- peciaBy as launch frequency is increased, and (2) conduct intraagenq and interagency briefings to ensure that the ~rar- ione agencies with weather forecast and support responsibili- ties are properly coordinating with each other ~nrmgTnAnned and nn~n~rlned space operations. APPLIED RESEARCH The AWS and NWS forecast offices at KSC and dSC are oper- ational units, not charged with research missions. Present staffing does not allow them to undertake applied research programs, aside from limited forecast studies and software development. Within AWS the latter activities are done by forecasters during slack operational periods. Within NWS, several staff members are dedicated to a Techniques Development Unit that performs these types of activi- ties. Though the forecast offices cannot perform the needed applied research, the AWS and NWS forecasters should play a strong role in identifying problems and requirements for applied research and technique development directed toward carrying out their mission. Larger applied research tasks are performed by other (nonfore- caster) agency personnel or are contracted to universities or private agencies. Within NASA these efforts are funded by the Office of Space Flight at NASA headquarters, by the director of KSC or dSC or by project leaders at these centers, or by one of the other NASA centers (such as MSFC). In the past, MSFC has been responsible for weather technology transfer and technology utilization programs for NASA space flight. There are other major meteorological re- search programs within NASA that are outside the jurisdiction of the OSF, such as Goddard Space Flight Center, Langley Research Center, Ames Research Center, I,ewis Research Center, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Within the Air Force, research is conducted and contracted by the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL) or the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). A number of NOAA laboratories and cooperative institutes perform research on instrumentation systems and on diagnostic and prognostic techniques, some of which deal
26 specifically with KSC under contract, and others of which could be of use in a system tailored toward solving KSC's problems. Most of this research is generated within the individual unit and is not centrally directed. On several occasions the pane} encountered different views ret garbing the perceived versus actual roles of research agencies. Strong central coordination is required to ensure that applied research efforts are complementary rather than redundant, are directed toward solv- ing operational needs, and are pursued to the stage where the results can be effectively applied toward solving operational proble~rm. The Weather Support Office should be staffed with atmo- spheric scientists who are capable of e~a}nating applied re- search activities, stimulating new applied research efforts needed to meet r~n~dressed needs of the space program, and coordinating these efforts.