Archive | April 8, 2012

North Korea Rocket Launch and how the Weather will play a vital role.

Weather throughout history has played a vital role in space travel; this will be no different with the planned rocket launch this week by North Korea. Specifically by the mid-part of the week a low pressure system will be moving through the Korean Peninsula and with it bringing thunderstorms, high winds, and cloud cover. All unfavorable conditions for any type of space vehicles.  The video above is my forecast analysis throughout the week. I do want to stress these are just my opinions on the forecast reflected back to when I used to forecast the weather in the area of Space Shuttle launches.  It is not my opinions on the launch itself and its role in world politics.

Apollo 12 Lightning Strike

History tells us that weather can cause damage to spacecraft, in 1969 Apollo 12 was struck by lightning twice just after launch. This is why the U.S and Nasa have such strict rules on launch weather.

The forecast though as stated above will be grim through Thursday. Tuesday a low pressure area will begin to work its way in to the Korean Peninsula with cloudy skies on the cards by 0900 that morning.  This will already provide not only dangerous conditions for launching but also a poor photo opportunity for this landmark launch. Something I’m sure the government of North Korea would not want to miss.  Conditions should go down hill more on Wednesday as the low passes though before moving off to Japan. High pressure will begin to ridge in by Thursday ushering in fairer conditions accompanied by a cool breezy northerly wind.  Therefore the most prime conditions for a rocket launch would be Thursday by noon or Friday morning. International law would not allow the North Korean Space agency to launch by afternoon though so likely one would wait to Friday morning.

2009 Launch

These are all just my thoughts though and if the forecast takes place early in the week or late in the week I’m sure it will go off.  Which is why the second half of the video talks about how space debris will fall due to upper level winds.  In the yellow sea the jet stream will be cruising through resulting in rather high winds in the upper levels, this could carry the debris a little farther East, by how far one could not be sure due to the unknown problem of how high the stage one separation would take place.   The other concern is the stage two separation area. Where in the tropics thankfully the upper level winds are rather light and the lower level atmosphere looks fair by the mid part of the week. Therefore as long as everything goes to plan the North Eastern Coast of Luzon should not be to worried.

So please be sure to check it out and as always if you have any comments or suggestions please post them in the box below.

Enjoying Easter And the Sakura

Domo-kun couldn’t be more happy wearing his Easter Bunny outfit and standing in front of the Sakura (Cherry) Blossoms at there full bloom.  The cherry blossoms are celebrated in Japan.  Sitting under the blossoms or “Hanami” is the centuries-old practice that started in the Nara period in the 8th century and it continues to this day as people gather around and enjoy the blossoms with there friends and family.

This year Easter and the Sakura fall together here in Japan making for a wonderful weekend as temperatures linger in to the mid-teens.

From all of us here at we wish you a wonderful holiday weekend for you and your loved ones. 

If you have any pictures you wish to share please post them in the comment box below!