Wednesday, December 3, 2014   |   Critical Weather

Weather Forecast for Launch & Recovery of NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

Just after 6am CST on Thursday, December 4, NASA is set to launch the first test flight of the Orion spacecraft–an important step in America’s eventual return to human space exploration. Safe weather conditions are needed for a safe ascent of the Orion capsule and its Delta IV rocket. Currently NASA is projecting a 70% chance for good weather conditions tomorrow morning. What more can we learn by examining the Baron Forecast Models?

12_4_launch_clouds   12_4_launch_radar 12_4_launch_winds2

Above, the Baron forecast model is predicting that Thursday morning will feature mostly cloudy skies across the peninsula of Florida, especially near Cape Canaveral at the time of launch. Surface winds are forecast to be from the east-northeast at 5-10mph, with winds gusts as high as 13mph to the south of the Cape. The Baron model predicts some widely scattered showers are possible in the region tomorrow morning, but these are expected to be light and fairly fast-moving from east to west. The model would confirm that there is a 70% chance (if not higher) of good weather for the launch tomorrow morning

 12_4_recovery_clouds   12_4_recovery_waves   12_4_recovery_wind

After a four-hour journey through space, the test capsule is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. Weather for the recovery of the spacecraft looks typical for this region of the Pacific Ocean. As seen above, current wave heights are 4-8 feet in the recovery area, and are forecast to be of similar heights throughout the day tomorrow. Mostly cloudy skies are expected across the entire region through the day tomorrow, and winds are expected to be a relatively light 5-10mph. Looks like conditions will be good for the recovery of Orion.

Here’s a video of some of NASA’s recent preperation leading up to the launch: