Re: Shuttle landing path

From: Monte Allaman (
Date: Thu Jul 21 2011 - 19:59:05 UTC

  • Next message: Paul Grace: "RE: Shuttle landing path"

    Sometime after seeing a re-entry over Texas there seemed to be a big gap in 
    over the US so I emailed NASA  (prior to Columbia) asking that same 
    question.  It seemed to me
    that it was a great public affairs opportunity to generate 
    interest/excitement (and funds). The response was
    that crew schedule had as much to do with it as anything.
    STS-120 back in 2007 came right through the heart of the country at mid-day
    and it was returning from the ISS so they weren't afraid to do it after 
    Columbia for sure.
    From: "George Roberts" <>
    Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 2:05 PM
    To: "Dale Ireland" <>; "'Roger'" 
    Cc: "'SeeSat-L'" <>
    Subject: Re: Shuttle landing path
    >> > Why did the shuttle almost always land on the ascending leg of its
    >> > orbit rather than the descending which gives the whole
    > I'm going to guess random chance.  Certainly for the non-ISS flights the
    > shuttle only reaches florida latitude so they are forced to wait until
    > florida is under that point in the shuttle's orbit.  But for the ISS 
    > flights
    > (which go much further north) they get two chances - an ascending and
    > descending pass (here ascend/descend refers to latitude, not altitude).
    > Florida would pass under these two orbital points twice each day about 9
    > hours apart e.g. noon and 9pm every day.  One of these times is likely
    > during daylight and one likely during night time and I expect they will go
    > with daylight every time regardless if it is descending or ascending.  If
    > they are both during daylight I think they pick the one at the more
    > convenient time of day (astronauts more alert).  But this is all a guess
    > based on what I know about orbits and how I might plan the shuttle landing
    > if it was my job.
    > - George Roberts
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