Wind tunnel tests simulate ground winds on the rocket during liftoff using smoke flow visualization. This technique allows engineers to see how the wind flow behaves as it hits the surface of the launch tower model. (NASA/Les Yeh)

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) may experience ground wind gusts of up to 70 mph as it sits on the launch pad before and during liftoff for future missions. Understanding how environmental factors affect the rocket will help NASA’s guidance, navigation, and control team to identify the safety distance between the rocket and the launch tower.