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NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group

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What's New at SMG?

May 2, 2007 SMG Welcomes New Lead Forecaster
Mark Wiley has joined the National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group as a Lead Forecaster.

Mark’s most recent position was Forecaster at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Corpus Christi, Texas. Prior to that, he was a Forecaster at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He was instrumental in convincing local officials to order a mandatory evacuation throughout southwest Louisiana as Hurricane Rita moved into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mark’s other work experience includes Flight Operations Meteorologist for American Airlines; TV Meteorologist in Sherman, Texas and Beaumont, Texas; and U.S. Air Force Staff Weather Officer for the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group and 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He also served as a Staff Weather Officer with the U.S. Southern Command while stationed in Panama supporting both Air Force and Army operations throughout Central and South America.

Mark obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology, with a minor in Mathematics, from the University of Oklahoma in May, 1987. He has completed his graduate coursework towards his Master of Science degree in Meteorology from Texas A&M University.

April 27, 2007 U.S. Deputy of Commerce Visits SMG
In Houston for a speaking engagement, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Dr. David A. Sampson took some time to visit the National Weather Service (NWS) Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) at the Johnson Space Center (JSC).

April 2, 2007 SMG Welcomes New Lead Forecaster
Kurt M. Van Speybroeck has joined the National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group as a Lead Forecaster.

Kurt brings a wide range of operational meteorology experience and program support to SMG. His most recent position was serving as Science and Operations Officer (SOO) at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Brownsville, TX. Prior positions include Lead Forecaster at the NWS Office in Albuquerque, NM; Severe Weather Forecaster at the NWS Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK; and Meteorological Intern positions at NWS Forecast Offices in Alabama and Texas. Kurt trained for and served as a NWS Fire Weather Incident Meteorologist (IMET). IMET deployments consist of on-site meteorological services provided to Incident Commanders for decision support for high impact / life threatening weather events related to wildfires.

Kurt has completed the NWS Southern Region "Building Leaders for a Solid Tomorrow" (BLAST) 2007 leadership seminar. He was a member of the National Weather Service Assessment Team for the record Tornado Outbreaks of May 4-10, 2003.

The author of numerous research papers, his professional interests include tropical meteorology, climatology, turbulence, aerodynamics, incident meteorology (command/decision support), amateur radio applications, applied physics and lightning. Kurt earned a bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from Metropolitan State College of Denver and a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Feb 2 2007 New TDU Meteorologist Joins SMG
Steve Early has joined the NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group as a Technique Development Unit (TDU) Meteorologist with Lockheed Martin. He has experience supporting a wide range of meteorological programs in research, staff support, weather forecasting, program management, technology transfer, and technique/system development roles. Steve has served with the United States Air Force, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Forecast Systems Laboratory, Space Environment Center, and Environmental Technology Laboratory), and private industry. His professional and research interests include numerical weather prediction, turbulence, meteorological visualization and decision aids, applied meteorology, application development, middle atmosphere, radar applications, and severe weather. Steve Early has a B.S. in Meteorology with a minor in Mathematics from the Metropolitan State College in Denver, CO, and a M.S. in Meteorology from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, OH.

January 22 2007 SMG Meteorologist Receives Honors
NWS / Spaceflight Meteorology Group Lead Forecaster Karl Silverman was honored by NASA in two separate events on Monday January 22, 2007.

Mr. Silverman was given the honor of "Hanging the Plaque" in the Mission Control Center in a post-mission ceremony following the December 2006 Space Shuttle mission on Discovery, STS-116. After each Shuttle flight, NASA's Flight Directors choose which support group provided the most outstanding service to Mission Control during the flight. For STS-116, SMG was chosen as having provided the most critical support to the mission. Mr. Silverman, SMG Lead Forecaster for STS-116, was given the honor of climbing a ladder and hanging the plaque in Mission Control.

Mr. Silverman, SMG Meteorologist, and Mr. Steve Stich, NASA Entry Flight Director, were honored with a JSC Team Award for work on the STS-116 mission. The award stated: "In recognition of outstanding real time coordination of weather assets for all three Continental United States (CONUS) landing sites leading to a safe landing at the Kennedy Space Center." This award was presented Monday, January 22, 2007 at the post-mission STS-116 Awards Ceremony and Astronaut mission video presentation.

October 2006 SMG Hires New Techniques Development Unit Meteorologist
Brian Hoeth becomes the newest NWS TDU meteorologist. Brian previously had worked in the TDU as a contract meteorologist.

26 September 2006 SMG Forecaster Receives 35 Year Service Pin
SMG lead forecaster Karl Silverman received his 35 year length of service pin from the Department of Commerce. Read more about and see retired astronaut John Young present Karl with his award at NWS Focus (about mid way down).

September 2006 SMG Provides Support to the Space Shuttle Program
Read about the vital weather support SMG provided for the September flight of Atlantis in this press release from the National Weather Service.

9 August 2006 SMG Forecaster Honored by NASA
SMG lead forecaster Richard Lafosse received a NASA Spaceflight Awareness Award for his work during the STS-115 mission. Read more about Richard receving the award.

2 June 2006 Tim Oram is the newest SMG Lead Forecaster
Tim Oram has moved from a position as a Techniques Development Meteorologist at SMG to a Lead Forecaster position. Tim has served with the United States Air Force, private weather companies, and the National Weather Service.

SMG Chief Frank Brody and Senior Meteorologist Richard Lafosse spoke with JSC Public Affairs about tornado safety.
Read about tornado safety at JSC Features.

The JSC Public Affairs Office interviewed SMG Chief Frank Brody and Techniques Development Meteorologist Tim Oram about lightning safety.
Read about lightning safety in the JSC Features article.

November 2005 The Weather Channel's Road Crew visited SMG.
Many thanks to The Weather Channel for providing the video to us which you may view. The video is 8MB in size so it may take a while to download on slow connections or if severe weather has increased server traffic so be patient.

13 December 2005 SMG Forecasters Interviewed About Winter Weather
SMG forecasters were interviewed by the JSC on-line news about winter weather.

SMG Lightning Preparedness Talk is on-line
Our Lightning Safety Presentation for JSC's Total Health and Safety Day has been put online! (approximately 320kb)

SMG Meteorologists Quoted in JSC On-Line News Magazine

SMG Meteorologists help explain Shuttle launch "window" considerations and provide practical advice on hurricane preparedness to NASA Johnson Space Center employees via the "JSC Features" online news magazine.

27 April 2005 SMG Prepares For Return-To-Flight Shuttle Mission 

Preparations for the return-to-flight shuttle mission have shifted into high gear at the NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.   The planned launch of Discovery in July 2005 will mark the first shuttle mission since the loss of Columbia in early 2003.   

SMG has embarked on several changes and improvements during this 2-year shuttle mission hiatus.   The primary change was implementing high-fidelity “weather-centric” simulations for both launch and landing.  This has provided enhanced training for both SMG meteorologists and key Flight Controllers that are involved with weather-related landing decisions.   SMG implemented the ARPS (Advanced Regional Prediction System) mesoscale model over the Kennedy Space Center area.   The new SMG “Weather Users Forum” facilitates cross-discussion and information sharing between SMG meteorologists and their Flight Control Team customers.   This forum has led to many changes and improvements in SMG operational processes and procedures. SMG has hosted four Weather Users Forums to date. 

Meteorologists at SMG helped coordinate two enhancements to Shuttle Weather Flight Rules.   The “Rain Shower Rule” clarification improved the rain shower evaluation process for Return-to-Launch-Site (RTLS) and Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) landings.   Also, a “weather terminology” section was added to the NASA Weather Flight Rules.   SMG coordinated weather instrumentation upgrades at the White Sands, NM shuttle landing site, and coordinated the siting of weather instrumentation at the new TAL site at Istres, France.  

SMG’s direct mission support for STS-114 began in mid-April and will be ongoing until Discovery lands safely back on earth.   For more information, please visit the SMG web site at

26 September 2006 SMG Forecaster Receives 35 Year Service Pin
SMG lead forecaster Karl Silverman received his 35 year length of service pin from the Department of Commerce. Read more about and see retired astronaut John Young present Karl with his award at NWS Focus (about mid way down).

9 April 2005 National Weather Service Houston/Galveston Office Temporarily Operates from SMG In April

Forecaster from the NWS Houston/Galveston office operated from SMG's forecast facility temporarily in April before moving to their new offices. Read all about the operation in the NWS Southern Region press releaseor in NASA's press release.

26 October 2004 Deputy Secretary of Commerce visits Johnson Space Center

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ted Kassinger visited the Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) on October 14, 2004. Mr. Kassinger toured the SMG operations area, received a demonstration of AWIPS and MIDDS, and was briefed on the weather "problem of the day". NASA Flight Director Steve Stich described the importance of weather support to the manned space flight program, and outlined Shuttle Return-to-Flight efforts.

Mr. Kassinger also visited the NASA Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG), which advises Mission Control on space weather information supplied by the NWS Space Environment Center. Finally, Mr. Kassinger received a tour of Space Shuttle and International Space Station Mission Control Centers.

17 May 2004 NOAA Administrator and NWS Director Visit SMG
NOAA Administrator VADM Conrad Lautenbacher and NWS Director Brig. Gen. D. L. Johnson visited SMG on May 17, 2004. The NOAA and NWS leaders were briefed on SMG operations and viewed demonstrations of SMG's customized AWIPS and MIDDS systems as well as SMG's mesoscale modeling results. NASA JSC Deputy Director Robert Cabana and Ascent/Entry Flight Director Norm Knight welcomed VADM Lautenbacher and Brig. Gen. Johnson and described SMG's critical support function to NASA.

22 April 2004 SMG Users Forum
The Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) held the second Weather Users Forum (WUF) at the Johnson Space Center on March 23, 2004. The WUF concept is to meet with SMG customers a few times a year for discussions about shuttle related weather issues. This forum is an organized and systematic process for gathering customer input and feedback to help SMG provide better products and services. Action items resulting from the forum are tracked, updated, and reviewed between meetings. Improved and enhanced SMG products and services have already resulted from the first WUF meeting held in August 2003.

Attendees at the March 2004 WUF included NASA flight directors, astronauts, flight dynamics and trajectory flight controllers, ascent and descent wind analysts, USAF launch weather officer, Kennedy Space Center Weather Projects Manager, and the Applied Meteorology Unit program manager. Weather operations topics included shuttle weather flight rules, upper wind forecasts, emergency landing site forecasts, and weather equipment (hardware and software) upgrades.

NASA JSC flight directors gave a special presentation on the impact of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board return-to-flight requirements on space shuttle weather support. Another presentation was given by the Applied Meteorology Unit on their launch imaging study to support return-to-flight requirements.

2 January 2004
Monthly Building 30 weather summary for December 2003 and the annual 2003 summary are now online.

29 December 2003
Advanced Regional Prediction System (ARPS) Model Data Available for Florida Domain

SMG has begun running the ARPS mesoscale model over a Florida domain in support of space launch and landing operations. Our experimental ARPS makes a 9 hour forecast run 4 times per day at 03 UTC, 09 UTC, 15 UTC, and 21 UTC with specialized forecast graphics available hourly.

The old ADAS information page has been deleted. Information on our new ADAS runs may be viewed at our new ADAS page.

28 October 2003
The NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group was awarded the prestigious Department of Commerce Bronze Medal in a ceremony near Washington DC on October 24, 2003. The award was "For rapid and innovative actions in collecting, archiving, and analyzing weather radar data to assist the Shuttle Columbia accident investigation."

The Bronze award was shared with NWS Southern Region Headquarters, the NWS Radar Operations Center, the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, the NESDIS National Climatic Data Center, and the NWS Warning Decision Training Branch.

The NWA Operational Achievement Group Award for a signficant contribution to operational meteorology was presented to SMG meteorologists Tim Oram, Tim Garner, and Richard Lafosse. The award was presented at the annual NWA Conference on October 22, 2003. The award noted, "As part of the NWS/NASA Spaceflight Meteorology Group, they provided extraordinary consultant support to NASA and performed outstanding intra- and interagency collaboration following the tragic break-up of the Space Shuttle Columbia."

24 October 2003
Some new ADAS graphics are being posted since we've made some changes to our ADAS runs. We'll be describing some of the modifications and providing additional graphics soon.

1 May 2003
Building 30 weather for April was quite dry with only 1.39 inches of rain measured. The Building 30 weather observations page has been updated to output 8 point compass wind directions in addition to the degrees measured. Look for more frequent updates and less data latency with the Building 30 weather observations page in the near future. The Building 30 meteogram graphic has been expanded to 72 hours of data. Also look for more and faster ADAS and Workstation Eta graphics coming soon.

24 February 2003
The Spaceflight Meteorology Group is working with NASA and other agencies in the investigation of the Columbia tragedy. Read all about it here.

13 January 2003
The STS-113 post mission weather summary has been added.

7 January 2003
Unofficial JSC climate records for Bldg. 30 from 2002 are now on-line. STS-113 landed December 7 after a record 3 days of weather delays. Look for the STS-113 post-mission weather summary soon. Read about the upcoming STS-107 flight in our pre-misson weather summary.

1 November 2002
The STS-112 post-mission weather summary has been posted. Also the annual and October 2002 climate pages have been updated on our JSC Climate Pages.

8 October 2002
Climate data has been updated on the JSC Climate page.

11 July 2002 STS-111 Post Mission Summary and More Climate Data!
The STS-111 post mission weather summary has been posted. Weather played a large role in launch and landing. Bad weather at KSC forced the landing until End-of-Mission + 2 days for only the 6th time in Shuttle history. Also additional monthly summaries for JSC have been posted on the new JSC Climate Page with more to come.

2 July 2002 New Climate Page
New climate data from the unofficial observations at JSC have been added from previous months. Visit our new JSC Climate page. We'll be slowly adding more data as time goes by.

2 May 2002 Read About Weather Support for the Last Space Shuttle Mission and the Upcoming Mission
The pre-mission weather support summary for STS-111 is on-line as well as the STS-110 post-mission summary. Also the JSC Annual Weather Summary has been updated.

17 April 2002
Ground tracks for the Space Shuttle (during missions and when security precautions allow) plotted over the world satellite mosaic are being posted on the SMG Home page. When a Space Shuttle is not flying we plan on putting the International Space Station grounds tracks on the image. Please be sure to check the UTC times plotted on the image. This product is still experimental and timely delivery to the internet is not gauranteed. We may add a larger version of the satellite image and ground track on a supplementary web page. Another source for orbital tracking information is at the NASA Human Space Flight web.

15 April 2002
Historical weather support for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs have been added. Several old pages have been upgraded to the new corporate look and this work will continue.

3 April 2002
Links for Weather Safety and Lightning Safety Awareness Week added to home page. Also the March, April, and 2002 Annual JSC weather summaries are on-line. The JSC Weather Summary pages will likely be getting a new look sometime this month as we add more historical data on-line. Look for some great updates to the SMG history this month as Tim Oram has created some interesting pages describing SMG support to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab programs. Lastly, it is almost certain that we will begin overlaying the ISS or current Space Shuttle groundtracks on the global color mosaic satellite imagery sometime this month.

21 March 2002
The STS-109 post-mission summary has been put on line. Read all about weather for the last Space Shuttle mission. Information about the next Space Shuttle mission is on-line at our STS-110 pre-mission summary.

9 March 2002
Maximum and minimum altimeter setting added to JSC Building 30 monthly weather summaries.

26 February 2002 New Corporate Image for NWS Web Pages
SMG is following the rest of the National Weather Service with a new "corporate" image look to our web site. Initially only the home page has changed, but expect more changes to our web in the coming weeks.

10 January 2002 Testing new JSC Weather Observation Page
We'll be testing a new look for the lastest observations from JSC over the next few days. Along with a new look is additional data. Dew point is regularly calculated. Wind chill will appear in remarks when the observed temperature is 40F or less. The heat index will appear in remarks when the observed temperature is 80F or more.

2 January 2002 Updated JSC Climate Summaries
Happy New Year! Climate observations from JSC for December 2001, January 2002, and the 2001 Annual summary have been posted. We plan on putting more of this data on our website soon so stay tuned.

3 December 2001 Previous Monthly JSC Weather Summary Added
Two months of JSC weather observation summaries are now on-line, the current and previous months. November was dry until the very last week at JSC when 6.07 inches fell in 3 days. For comparison, the monthly total at Houston Intercontintal Airport was 2.58 inches and at Galveston Scholes Field was 4.33 inches. Also the annual summary has been updated.

29 November 2001 STS-108 Premission Summary On-line
Information about the upcoming mission to the International Space Station is available.

9 November 2001 Graphical depiction of past 24 hours of JSC weather
Meteogram of measurements from JSC weather sensor during the past 24 hours is online.

31 October 2001 SMG Conducts Flight Controller Training Course
The Spaceflight Meteorology Group conducted an all day training seminar for NASA Space Shuttle support personnel on October 30, 2001 at the Johnson Space Center. Thirty-five NASA and contractor personnel attended.
The title of the seminar was Weather Support for Manned Spaceflight Operations. Wayne Baggett, SMG Training Coordinator, managed the course. Wayne and most SMG staff members participated as instructors. ASA Monical Sowell handled all correspondence and administrative matters. Monica also prepared the individual student binders containing course handouts.
Attendees were mostly NASA flight controllers, mission support personnel, and training specialists who direct mission simulations. Most students have backgrounds in engineering.
The previous SMG training seminar was held in September 1998. Course materials and presentations are updated prior to each class to reflect changing mission requirements and flight rules. Student evaluations from the seminar are used to streamline and to make the seminar more job-related.

17 October 2001 SMG Meteorologist Receives NWA Aviation Meteorology Award
Tim Oram of SMG received the 2001 National Weather Association (NWA) Aviation Meteorology Award. Tim was honored along with Col. Tim Miner of the USAF Reserve for developing and implementing the highly successful "Thunderstorms and Flying" internet weather course. This course was hosted on the NWA web site Over 2200 students registered for the course and over 80,000 website visits were recorded for the course in April, May, and June 2001. The six-lesson effort was a collaborative effort of many aviation-oriented groups and received excellent reviews. The Aviation Meteorology Award was presented at the 26th Annual NWA Meeting in Spokane, Washington on October 17, 2001.

13 October 2001 JSC Building 30 weather observations are back online after a long hiatus. Monthly and annual reports will be updated soon.

5 October 2001 Mesoscale Modeling Efforts On the Web
SMG mesoscale modeling efforts are gaiing momentum. Selected products from our locally run ARPS Data Analysis System (ADAS) and workstation Eta models are being posted to the web. SMG's version of ADAS is run over a Florida domain. ADAS web products are posted about once per hour. The workstation Eta model is currently run over a Spain and northwest Africa domain for Transoceanic Abort Landing site support.

2 October 2001 SMG Begins New Training Initiative
SMG began a new training initiative in response to a request from the NASA Astronaut Flight Office. SMG will provide regular briefings on various topics in aviation weather on the first Tuesday of every month as a part of refresher ground training for NASA astronaut pilots.
SMG Training Coordinator Wayne Baggett provided the first briefing on October 2, 2001. The topic was aircraft icing. The briefing was adapted from a NWS Western Region aircraft icing presentation. Fourteen astronaut pilots attended and the briefing was well received. Other SMG staff members will be participating in future briefings.
SMG is working on collecting training materials from various aviation weather sources to be used for references.

1 October 2001 New colorized global satellite mosaic image added to SMG home page.

25 August 2001 SMG participates in NASA/JSC Open House
SMG had the biggest crowd ever through its weather operations area in support of the Johnson Space Center's (JSC) Open House. Once again it was held on a hot August Saturday in conjunction with the Balloonar Liftoff Festival. The Balloonar Liftoff Festival is a hot air balloon event held on the grounds of JSC. Over 100 balloons could be seen floating over JSC on Saturday morning. The combined events attracted over 140,000 visitors. Over 10,000 people visited SMG to see how weather forecasting is done for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and Crew Return Vehicle. For the second year, SMG was able to showcase AWIPS displays of realtime satellite and radar imagery as well as McIDAS displays of mesonet data at Shuttle landing sites. SMG personnel gave short briefings and answered questions. SMG participants at Open House were Doris Rotzoll, Monica Sowell, Karl Silverman, Wayne Baggett, Steve Sokol, and Tim Oram. Several staff members spouses and children helped out as well.

Weather and Mission Information:
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Looking for information about "space weather", sunspots, or solar flares? Visit the NOAA Space Environment Center.

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Page last modified: 2 May 2007