DART Webcast: Weather Briefing
Thank you, Mr. Kennedy, for that great introduction to our webcast today. You're watching prelaunch coverage of NASA's DART mission. I'm your host, Tiffany Nail, and we are live from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Excitement is building as we count down to the DART launch set for Oct. 26 at 11:13 a.m. Pacific time or 2:13 p.m. Eastern time. DART is NASA's latest experiment for unpiloted rendezvous of space vehicles. Flying in space for only 24 hours, DART will be attempting to guide itself to a satellite in orbit. Today, you'll discover just how the mission will unfold straight from the experts. Just ahead, an in-depth look at the DART spacecraft and its launch vehicle, the Pegasus rocket. Also coming up, NASA launch manager Omar Baez will stop by to talk about the rocket's preparations and launch countdown. And finally, NASA's DART project manager Jim Snoddy will be here to discuss the mission plan and technology. Mr. Snoddy will also answer many of your questions live in our studio. Speaking of questions, you won't want to miss when we announce the NASA Direct question board prize winners at the end of this webcast. There's a lot to get to, so let's get started. The DART launch is dependent on a favorable weather report. Let's go to the taped interview with weather launch officer Lt. Barnhill for the launch day forecast.
Lt. Lee Barnhill:
For the Pegasus DART launch, my weather team and I will be monitoring for several range safety constraints. They are designed to protect the vehicle from natural and triggered lightning. In addition to the range safety constraints, we will also be monitoring for some vehicle-specific constraints, such as winds, precipitation and turbulence. Our wind constraints are designed to allow the L-1011 for a safe takeoff with the Pegasus mated to the fuselage of the aircraft, as well as a safe landing with the Pegasus, if necessary. We'll also be monitoring for precipitation, to ensure the vehicle does not fly through an excessive amount of moisture. Finally, we'll be looking for turbulence that could affect not only the takeoff, but also the releasing of the Pegasus at the launch point. The forecast for Tuesday calls for a low-pressure system moving into the Central coast area with a cold frontal boundary extending westward into the Pacific. Cumulus clouds and rain showers will be associated along the frontal boundary and ahead of it, extending at the Vandenberg Air Force Base area, as well as some residual showers behind the frontal boundary. We will also see some enhanced cumulus clouds in the drop-box area ahead of an upper-level trough. Winds at flight level in the launch box are expected to be out of the west-northwest at 70 to 80 knots, giving us an area of concern for turbulence within the drop box. The latest models have been lacking on one to one consistency, but as we move closer to the launch date, we expect those models to improve. Due to those conditions, our primary areas of concern are cloud layers, cumulus clouds and precipitation. These areas of concern give us an overall probability of violation of 70 percent.
Thank you to Lt. Barnhill for the weather report.