Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Edward D. White, PhD


The purpose of this research is to optimize lightning warning radii specifications for the 45th Space Wing (45 SW), thus reducing the number of unnecessary warnings that delay ground processing needed for space launch execution at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This thesis sought to answer two key research questions addressing: 1) What radius reduction effectively balances both safety and operations and do reduction recommendations from previous research align with results from the new detection system? 2) What insights can be gained from comparing measurement results for seasonal lightning events as well as lightning types? This study focused on recoil/dart leader events for both lightning types, cloud to ground and lightning aloft, occurring around the Cape Canaveral space launch facilities. Location information for these events are collected by the Mesoscale Eastern Range Lightning Information Network during 2017-2019. In this research, a clustering approach based on spatial and temporal criteria was applied to establish storm groupings. The Minimum Volume Enclosing Ellipsoid method was then utilized to generate the distance distribution for analysis on proposed radii reduction alternatives that would achieve the optimal balance between productivity and risk. Findings will show that a 1NM reduction from the radii baseline provides the optimum balance between operations and safety, resulting in reducing 5NM warning circles to 4NM and 6NM warning circles to 5NM, comparable to results in previous research.

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DTIC Accession Number