Shuttle/HST just after release

Bill T Bard (wtba@eci.esys.com)
Tue, 28 Dec 1999 12:17:20 -0500

I haven't had time to send this until now but I had a great view of the
shuttle and HST just after release. They passed overhead the Tampa Florida
area around 6:40 PM EST which was around 30 minutes after release.
Listening to coverage later, they were reported to be about 800 to 900 feet
apart. I was able with binoculars to make out 2 separate objects around the
time of overhead passage. Before and after that I couldn't make out 2
separate objects. The leading object was dimmer than the trailing object.
Commentary said that the shuttle would be leading, but looking at video of
the deploy showed that the HST was leading for a brief period. The
separation was detectable but bearly and not really measurable.

What I estimate happened is that the shuttle did a small separation burn
against the direction of travel. This initially caused the HST to pull out
in front and the shuttle then went below the HST and led it from then on.
When I saw the two, I think HST was still leading the shuttle, but not by
much as the shuttle was beginning to overtake it. While the shuttle/HST
range was 800 to 900 feet, I don't know what the horizontal separation was.
I estimate maybe only 100 to 300 feet, but that's just a guess. Still neat
to see!

Bill Bard


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