Re: STS-127 ascent visibility

Date: Sat Jun 13 2009 - 18:42:06 UTC

  • Next message: Alberto Rango: "4641 SATOBS 12 JUN 2009."

    In a message dated 6/13/2009 1:40:14 P.M.  Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
    It seems probable that  the next STS-127 launch attempt will be on June 20 
    (presuming that LRO keeps  its slot on the Eastern Test Range).  This would 
    produce a night  launch, with a window approximately 4:30 to 4:35 EDT.  In 
    Florida, this  is before astronomical twilight.  From my location in 
    Massachusetts,  it's right at the start of civil twilight.
    Does anyone know if the  shuttle's flight trajectory would break into 
    sunlight during ascent, and if  so, when that would happen during the 
    launch?  I saw a Titan-IV launch  break into daylight from Massachusetts a 
    few years ago, and it was a  remarkable sight.
    To the best of my knowledge, there is no official word  about the new 
    launch date.  Right now, June 20 is nothing more than a  reasonable guess.
    Sean  Sullivan
    Hi  Sean --
    In answer to your question, I used a program that calculates  whether or
    not a satellite is illuminated by sunlight depending on its  coordinate
    positions (Lat./Long.) and its altitude (in kilometers).   Using past 
    launch trajectories to the ISS as a guide I tell you with  certainty that 
    when STS-127 reaches the point of MECO it will most  definitely will be
    in sunlight.  Somewhere along the launch trajectory  it should climb out
    of the Earth's shadow, although I don't have the time  right now to 
    exactly where that will be.  
    This all  assumes a liftoff from KSC at 4:31 a.m. EDT on June 20.
    Another question  that was asked of me off list is the visibility of STS-127
    should the launch  occur on June 17.  Liftoff would come at 5:40:47 a.m. 
    which would  be after sunrise for those living in the Middle Atlantic and
    Northeast  US.  I'm not sure if the bright post-sunrise sky would mask 
    visibility  of the orbiter and ET, but certainly if you live in these 
    it  wouldn't hurt to try!
    -- joe rao  
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