Since 2001, the ESRL Global Systems Division (GSD - formerly Forecast Systems Laboratory - FSL) has been supporting the Air Force Range Standardization and Automation (RSA) program. Based on the National Weather Service's Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS-I), a system has been tailored by GSD to support space launch operations at the Western Range at Vandenberg Air Force Base. A major goal of this work is to replace legacy systems with an integrated weather display, thus improving the Launch Weather Officers' effectiveness and efficiency.
Funding of GSD's development work, which also supported operations at the Eastern Range (Cape Canaveral), was provided by Lockheed Martin Corporation via subcontract, and now directly by the U.S. Air Force.
There are two major areas of work at GSD, the data ingest and display system and development of a local analysis and modeling suite. Papers describing these were presented at the AMS AWIPS Symposium in January 2002:
Tailoring the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) for space launch range support (PDF)
A completely integrated, cost-effective, local data assimilation and forecasting system to support space launch range operations (PDF)
The display system is based on the National Weather Service's Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), to which GSD has contributed for several years. Synoptic and some local data for AWIPS are transmitted over NOAAPORT, with local radars and mesonets processed on a site by site basis. For RSA, GSD was tasked to develop ingest and display of several local datasets, use those data for a local analysis and prediction system, and provide tools to help the Launch Weather Officers prepare and communicate weather information to Range personnel.
In broad terms, we can characterize the data as national and local.
National (NOAAPORT) Local Sfc/soundings Atmos. electricity NCEP and other models
GOES/POES imagery and soundings
METARs, buoys, ships, Synoptic obs
RAOB, profiler, aircraft data
field mills (ER)
3-d lightning (ER)
The initial work was based on the AWIPS 5.1.2 release, and included requirements in the areas of local data ingest and display. Lockheed Martin carried out an Acceptance Test with the Air Force at the Western Range in June 2002, and the initial installation at the Eastern Range occurred in July. An upgrade including the text subsystem and incorporating AWIPS 5.2.2 enhancements was installed at the Ranges in late winter 2003. A version based on the AWIPS OB1 release was installed at WR in March 2004 and at ER in June. This was followed by a delivery of an AWIPS OB4-based update, delivered to Lockheed Martin in July 2005. Salient improvements included an OS upgrade to RedHat AS2.1, new processors for the model cluster, model improvements, a Field Mill tabular text display, staging ORPG Build 6 software on a Linux platform, and enhancements to the Briefing Tool.
Current work includes continued maintenance and minor improvements to the OB4 release. We merged RSA-developed enhancements into the AWIPS OB6 version, and NWS accepted them into the AWIPS baseline system for the OB7.1 release.
D. Davis, T. Wilfong, B. Shaw, K. Winters, and W. Schmeiser, 2002: Tailoring the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) for Space Launch Range Support. (PDF)
Brent L. Shaw, Steven C. Albers, John A. McGinley, Linda S. Wharton, Timothy L. Wilfong, Christy L. Crosiar, and Dewey E. Harms, 2002: A completely integrated, cost-effective, local data assimilation and forecasting system to support space launch range operations (PDF).
Joseph S. Wakefield, Philip A. McDonald, MarySue Schultz, Xiangbao Jing, and James E. Ramer, 2004: Processing and Display of Atmospheric Electricity Data to Support Launch Operations at the Eastern Range. (PDF)