Date of Award

11-2012

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics

Department

Applied Aviation Sciences

Committee Chair

John M. Lanicci, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Guy M. Smith, Ed.D.

Second Committee Member

Lance K. Erickson, Ph.D.

Abstract

Commercial space companies will soon be the primary method of launching people and supplies into orbit. Among the critical aspects of space launches are the meteorological concerns. Laws and regulations pertaining to meteorological considerations have been created to ensure the safety of the space industry and those living around spaceports; but, are they adequate? Perhaps the commercial space industry can turn to the commercial aviation industry to help answer that question. Throughout its history, the aviation industry has dealt with lessons learned from mishaps due to failures in understanding the significance of weather impacts on operations. Using lessons from the aviation industry, the commercial space industry can preempt such accidents and maintain viability as an industry. Using Lanicci's Strategic Planning Model , this study identified the weather needs of the commercial space industry by conducting three gap analyses. First, a comparative analysis was done between laws and regulations in commercial aviation and those in the commercial space industry pertaining to meteorological support, finding a "legislative gap" between the two industries, as no legal guarantee is in place to ensure weather products remain available to the commercial space industry. A second analysis was conducted between the meteorological services provided for the commercial aviation industry and commercial space industry, finding a gap at facilities not located at an established launch facility or airport. At such facilities, many weather observational technologies would not be present, and would need to be purchased by the company operating the spaceport facility. A third analysis was conducted between the meteorological products and regulations that are currently in existence, and those needed for safe operations within the commercial space industry, finding gaps in predicting lightning, electric field charge, and space weather. Recommendations to address these deficiencies have been generated for the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Congress, commercial space launch companies, and areas are identified for further research.

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