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POSTFLIGHT SUMMARY FOR STS-92

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP

HOUSTON, TEXAS

 

 

...Discovery successfully completes 100th Space Shuttle Flight...

 

   After a number of technical delays, the Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off on October 11, 2000 at 2317 UTC and docked with the International Space Station on October 13.  The crew successfully completed four EVAs while attached to the Space Station.   For a complete technical summary of the STS-92 mission visit the STS-92 Post-Mission Summary web page at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/archives/sts-92/index.html.

 

   For the late afternoon launch of STS-92, cloud ceilings below five thousand feet and light rain showers within twenty miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) were the two Return To Launch Site (RTLS) weather flight rules evaluated for possible violation.  Showers that moved across the launch pad during the early afternoon in the easterly low-level flow dissipated inland prior to launch.  This left cloud ceilings as the primary weather violation threat.  GOES  8 visible satellite imagery was used to monitor the low clouds over the Atlantic and track a large patch of widely scattered clouds moving toward Kennedy Space Center (KSC) prior to launch.  The location of this relatively cloud free area and its movement toward the KSC area allowed the forecaster to remove the ceiling violation from the RTLS forecast about one hour prior to launch.  All three Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites had marginal weather prior to launch as low clouds and showers associated with a cold front stretched across Spain.  Meteosat satellite imagery helped the SMG forecaster make the decision to remove the chance of low cloud ceilings from the forecast for Ben Guerrir, Morocco a few hours prior to launch.

 

   After two weather wave-off days, Discovery landed at Edwards AFB for the first time since March 1996.  The landing on October 24, 2000 at 2059 UTC ended a record string of twenty-three straight landings at KSC.  GOES 10 visible satellite imagery indicated clear weather over southern California at landing time.  At KSC strong northeasterly surface winds all three days during the afternoon landing opportunities precluded Discovery from returning to Florida.  Weather flight rules require crosswinds of 15 knots or less for a shuttle landing.  A three-day plot of one of the SLF wind towers depicting the strong afternoon crosswinds can be viewed http://www.srh.noaa.gov/smg/images/ralimg4.gif.  Landing weather at KSC was unacceptable for seven straight days October 20-26 due to crosswinds, low cloud ceilings and/or showers within 30 nautical miles.

 

   The SMG lead forecaster for STS-92 was Rich Lafosse.  Assistant lead/TAL site forecaster was Tim Garner.  The lead Techniques Development Unit meteorologist was Mark Keehn.



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