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…Smooth Weather for 101st Space Shuttle Mission...

The Space Shuttle Endeavour touched down at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility runway 15 at 2303 UTC 11 December, 2000 after installing the largest solar arrays in space on the International Space Station. Endeavour lifted off from Pad 39B 0306 UTC 1 December 2000 under clear skies and light winds. Weather for launch and at all US and Transoceanic Abort Landing sites was observed within Launch Commit Criteria and Flight Rule limits. This was the 25th night launch in Space Shuttle history.

Endeavour’s crew installed the 240 feet long by 38 feet wide solar arrays during a series of three space walks. Endeavour also delivered other supplies and equipment to the International Space Station crew. This was the first shuttle crew to visit a manned International Space Station.

Endeavour’s return to Earth at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was on time, but not without some weather concerns. Long-range model output had suggested nice weather for landing until about 36 hours prior to touchdown. Short-range model runs from the Eta, AVN, and other models began to forecast relatively high probabilities for rain on the afternoon of 11 December. A return of moisture around a departing surface high pressure center and lift from an upper air system were the primary causes for including a chance for rain showers at landing time. A line of showers moved through the KSC area the morning of the 11th. Afternoon heating created considerable cumulus and a few small showers over the Florida peninsula that began to wane near sunset. Endeavour landed on the first available opportunity with no showers observed within 30 miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility. This marked the 100th Space Shuttle landing, the 16th night landing, and the 14th mission for Endeavour.A larger area of showers moved in from the southwest much later that evening bringing light rain.

This was the third mission that forecasters at the Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) were able to utilize the Advanced Weather Information Processing System (AWIPS) to support Space Shuttle operations in addition to the Meteorological Information Data Display System (MIDDS). SMG forecasters were also able to begin evaluating the performance of the Advanced Regional Prediction System Data Analysis System (ADAS) during the STS-97 mission.

The next Space Shuttle mission, STS-98, will deliver the US Destiny Laboratory module to the International Space Station. STS-98 is scheduled for a January or February 2000 liftoff from KSC.

The lead forecaster for STS-97 was Tim Garner. This was the seventh mission as lead forecaster for Tim. Richard Lafosse was the Transoceanic Abort Landing site forecaster on launch day. Dan Bellue was the assistant lead forecaster. Tim Oram coordinated SMG weather systems and assisted the lead forecasters as Lead Techniques Development meteorologist. Brice Biggerstaff was the contractor point-of-contact for STS-97 weather software issues.



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