The Spaceflight Meteorology Group
Postflight Mission Summary for STS-83
April 21, 1997
Columbia Flight Launches Late and Lands Early at KSC...
After a one day delay due to the requirement to insulate water coolant lines, Space
Shuttle Columbia lifted off on April 4, 1997 at 1920 UTC. The afternoon launch was free of
any weather concerns as high pressure centered over the Atlantic just off the Florida
coast afforded fair weather and light surface winds at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Columbia, however, was forced to cut short its mission and return early. One of
Columbias three fuel cells which furnish electricity to the orbitor was not working
properly. It was decided on April 6 to declare a minimum duration flight (MDF) and bring
Columbia back early on April 8, 1997.
Surface winds were the main forecast problem on landing day. Northeast surface winds
very near the 15kt crosswind limit were forecast to develop at the KSC Shuttle Landing
Facility (SLF) for the afternoon landing. At Edwards AFB (EDW), the other possible landing
site, surface winds were forecast to increase during the afternoon as an upper low
deepened over the southern rockies. Forecast winds peaking to 30kts would violate a number
of weather flight rules at EDW. In the morning, KSC winds at times exceeded the crosswind
limit. However, about 2 1/2 hours before landing time, winds backed to a more northerly
direction, yielding a smaller crosswind on the NW-SE oriented runway. After noting this
trend, SMG predicted the SLF winds would stay just below the crosswind exceedance limits
and a GO forecast for KSC was issued two hours before touchdown. Columbia
landed at KSC April 8, 1997 at 1834Z. SLF crosswinds were below limits at landing time.
NASA is currently discussing plans to relaunch the STS-83 mission in early July of
1997. This would allow completion of many of the STS-83 Microgravity Science Laboratory
The lead forecaster for STS-83 was Richard Lafosse. Assistant lead/TAL site forecaster
was Wayne Baggett. The lead Techniques Development Unit meteorologist was Tim Oram.
Richard Lafosse STS-83 Lead Forecaster