Rain forecast highlights 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron support to Discovery

By Lance Cheung

Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

Nov. 2, 2010

It’s been a few days of waiting near Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, mainly due to weather conditions. It’s given me a chance to learn about how closely the Kennedy Space Center and neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Station rely on the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron at nearby Patrick Air Force Base to forecast weather for all operations.

The only concerns for the shuttle launch, as of Nov. 2, are the possibility of low-level clouds or rain showers within 20 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility. In the event of lightning, an 80-foot lightening mast is positioned atop the Fixed Service Structure high above the Space Shuttle Discovery.

PHOTO: During the “Kennedy Space Center: Today & Tomorrow” tour, the Space Shuttle Discovery can be viewed from one mile away on Launch Complex 39A, at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Nov. 1, 2010. The adjusted takeoff date is Nov 3. To make Space Shuttle launches as economical as possible, their reuse is crucial. Unlike rocket boosters previously used in the space program, the Space Shuttle’s solid rocket booster (SRB) casings and associated flight hardware are recovered at sea. The expended boosters are disassembled, refurbished and reloaded with solid propellant for reuse. The two retrieval ships that perform the SRB recovery, the Liberty Star and Freedom Star, are unique vessels specifically designed and constructed for this task. (Courtesy photo/Lance Cheung)