Using a Field Mill Climatology to Assess All Lightning Launch Commit Criteria
Technical Report,01 Oct 2018,26 Mar 2020
AIR FORCE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB United States
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Due to the danger and cost of lightning striking a space vehicle, the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station CCAFS balances between the mission of launching and cessation thereof to minimize the risk of a lightning strike. This process is mediated through a set of rules called the Lightning Launch Commit Criteria LLCC. To date, no empirical modeling of these rules has been established. To alleviate this shortcoming, this thesis uses the voltage readings of the surrounding CCAFS surface field mills to establish the viability of modeling the entirety of the LLCC rules statistically. Converting approximately 312,000,000 field mill voltage readings into a salient collection of 9,000 green, amber, and red zones for meteorological operators, this thesis demonstrates not only the validity of this modeling process but also produced an easy to understand tool to use hands-on within the CCAFS region the first of its type. As clients such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance continue to request the use of the Cape Canaveral space port, the tool provided by this research will serve to ensure scheduling around probable lightning violations, thereby maximizing operational capability.