List of space shuttle landing sites

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Three locations in the United States of America were the sites of landings of the Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle). Each site included runways of sufficient length to provide adequate distance for the slowing-down of a returning space shuttle. The prime landing site was the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, a landing strip constructed for the purpose of space shuttle landings. Landings also occurred at Edwards Air Force Base in California and one at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. No space shuttle landed on a dry lakebed runway after 1991. International landing sites were available in the event of a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) situation,[1] and other sites in the United States and Canada were available in the event of an East Coast Abort Landing (ECAL) situation. Space shuttle landings were intended to regularly take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for Department of Defense missions launched from the site, but none occurred due to the cancellation of all launches from Vandenberg.

Kennedy Space Center[edit]

The Space Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, April 2001

The Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has a single 15,000-foot (4,600 m) concrete runway, 15/33.[2] It is designated Runway 15 or 33, depending on the direction of use. The first landing at the SLF was for mission STS-41B in 1984; landings were suspended at the site following brake damage and a blown tire during the STS-51D landing in 1985,[3] and resumed in 1990.

Runway Surface material Missions landed[4]
Runway 15 Concrete STS-41B, 51A, 51C, 39, 43, 51, 63, 71, 72, 79, 82, 86, 89, 91, 88, 96, 101, 106, 97, 102, 104, 105, 108, 121, 116, 118, 122, 123, 124, 119, 127, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135
Runway 33 Concrete STS-41G, 51D, 38, 45, 50, 46, 47, 52, 54, 56, 57, 61, 60, 62, 65, 70, 69, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 80, 81, 83, 84, 94, 85, 87, 90, 95, 93, 103, 99, 109, 110, 112, 113, 115, 120, 129, 132

Edwards Air Force Base[edit]

STS-4 lands on Edwards AFB runway 22.

Edwards Air Force Base in California was the site of the first space shuttle landing, and became a back-up site to the prime landing location, the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Several runways are arrayed on the dry lakebed at Rogers Dry Lake,[5] and there are also concrete runways. Space shuttle landings on the lake bed took place on Runways 05/23, 15/33 and 17/35. Of the concrete strips, the main Runway 04/22 was utilized. During the renovation of 04/22, a temporary runway (with the same designation) was constructed parallel to it and used for one landing (STS-126).[6] All five free flights of space shuttle Enterprise landed on Edwards Air Force Base runways.

Runway Surface material Missions landed[4]
Runway 05 Dry lakebed STS-44
Runway 23 Dry lakebed STS-1, 2, 51G, 51F, 51I, 51J, 34, 36
Runway 15 Dry lakebed Enterprise ALT Free Flight No. 3, STS-7
Runway 33 Dry lakebed STS-37
Runway 17 Dry lakebed Enterprise ALT Free Flight No. 1, No. 2, No. 4, STS-9, 41C, 41D, 51B, 61A, 26, 27, 28
Runway 35 Dry lakebed (none)
Runway 04 Concrete Enterprise ALT Free Flight No. 5, STS-33, 64
Runway 22 Concrete STS-4, 5, 6, 8, 61B, 61C, 29, 30, 32, 31, 41, 35, 40, 48, 42, 49, 53, 55, 58, 59, 68, 66, 67, 76, 92, 98, 100, 111, 114, 117, 125, 128
Runway 04 (Temporary) Asphalt STS-126

White Sands[edit]

Columbia (STS-3) landing on Northrop Strip at White Sands Space Harbor, 30 March 1982

White Sands Space Harbor at White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico was an emergency landing site for the space shuttle and was used as a backup when the runways at Edwards Air Force Base and the Kennedy Space Center were unavailable. Two 35,000 feet (11,000 m) runways and a 12,800-foot (3,900 m) runway were available for landings on the dry lake bed.[7] One mission, STS-3, used Runway 17 for a landing.

Runway Surface material Missions landed[8]
Runway 17 Dry lakebed STS-3

Transoceanic Abort Landing Sites[edit]

In the event of an abort during launch, NASA had several international locations designated as Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites. The sites included Lajes Air Base in Terceira island, Azores, Portugal, Zaragoza Air Base in Spain, Morón Air Base in Spain, and Istres Air Base in France.[9] All sites have runways of sufficient length to support the landing of a space shuttle, and included personnel from NASA as well as equipment to aid a space shuttle landing.[10] Zaragoza Air Base features Runway 30L with a length of 12,109 ft.;[11] Morón Air Base features an 11,800 ft (3,600 m). runway;[12] and Istres Air Base features Runway 33 with a length of 12,303 ft.[13] Former TAL sites include Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory; Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany; Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco (1988–2002);[14] Casablanca, Morocco (up to 1986);[14] Banjul International Airport, The Gambia (1987–2002);[15] Dakar, Senegal; Rota, Spain; and Kano, Nigeria.[16] Had a TAL situation arisen during a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Hao and Easter Islands in the Pacific Ocean would have been the TAL sites.[17][18]

RAF Fairford was the only Transoceanic Abort Landing site for NASA's Space Shuttle in the UK. As well as having a sufficiently long runway for a shuttle landing (the runway is 3 km long), Fairford also had NASA-trained fire and medical crews stationed on the base.[19]

East Coast Abort Landing Sites[edit]

In certain launch abort situations where the mission profile supports a trajectory for such a landing, runways on the East Coast of the United States and Canada could have been used for an East Coast Abort Landing (ECAL) situation. The following sites could have been used for an ECAL:[20] Atlantic City International Airport, New Jersey; Myrtle Beach International Airport, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Wilmington International Airport, North Carolina[21] Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina; Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia; Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; Bangor International Airport, Maine; Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts; Pease Air National Guard Base, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Enfield, Nova Scotia; Stephenville International Airport, Stephenville, Newfoundland; CFB Goose Bay, Labrador; Gander International Airport, Gander, Newfoundland; and St. John's International Airport, St. Johns, Newfoundland.[22][23] Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine.

Vandenberg Air Force Base[edit]

Space shuttle missions to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California were planned to conclude with a landing at Runway 12/30[24] at the site.[25] The runway was lengthened to support shuttle landings.[26] The first landing at Vandenberg was planned for mission STS-62-A, which was scheduled for launch in July 1986, but canceled in the wake of the STS-51L accident.[27] No space shuttle operations or landings ever occurred at the site.[28]

Lincoln Airport/Lincoln Air National Guard Base[edit]

The joint use civilian/military Lincoln Airport/Lincoln Air National Guard Base in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA was designated as an alternate landing site for its unusually and extremely long main runway (12,900 ft. (3,932 m) runway with 1000 ft. over-runs on each end, totaling almost 15,000 ft. length) and low air traffic, both commercial and military.[29][30][31] No space shuttle landing ever occurred there.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HSF – The Shuttle". Spaceflight.nasa.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF)". Science.ksc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "NASA – STS-51D". Nasa.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Shuttle". Astronautix.com. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "KEDW – Edwards Air Force Base". AirNav. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "Endeavour, STS-126 crew lands on temp California runway". iTWire. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "NASA – Capabilities". Nasa.gov. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "STS-3". Astronautix.com. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "NASA – Roster of Runways Ready to Bring a Shuttle Home". Nasa.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "John F. Kennedy Space Center – Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". Pao.ksc.nasa.gov. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "John F. Kennedy Space Center – Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". Pao.ksc.nasa.gov. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "John F. Kennedy Space Center – Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". Pao.ksc.nasa.gov. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "John F. Kennedy Space Center – Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". Pao.ksc.nasa.gov. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "John F. Kennedy Space Center – Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". Pao.ksc.nasa.gov. 18 January 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "John F. Kennedy Space Center – Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". Pao.ksc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Ask Us – Space Shuttle Abort Modes". Aerospaceweb.org. 25 June 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  17. ^ Space Rescue: Ensuring the Safety of ... – David Shayler – Google Books. Google Books. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  18. ^ Boadle, Anthony (30 June 1985). "Lonely Easter Island Will Be Emergency Shuttle Landing Site". Los Angeles Times. 
  19. ^ "RAF Fairford on standby for Space Shuttle landing". BBC Gloucestershire. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  20. ^ "Space Shuttle Landing and Rollout Training at the VerticalMotion Simulator". NASA Aviation Systems. 
  21. ^ NASA Names North Carolina Airport Emergency Landing Site for Shuttle[dead link]
  22. ^ Space Rescue: Ensuring the Safety of ... – David Shayler – Google Books. Google Books. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "TRANSPORT CANADA NASA SPACE SHUTTLE EMERGENCY LANDING SITE CONTINGENCY PLAN". Transport Canada. 
  24. ^ "KVBG – Vandenberg Air Force Base". AirNav. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "The Space Shuttle and Vandenberg Air Force Base". Airpower.au.af.mil. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  26. ^ The Bulletin - Google News Archive Search
  27. ^ "STS-62-A". Astronautix.com. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  28. ^ "The Air Force Space Shuttle Program: A Brief History". Aero.org. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  29. ^ http://www.lincolnairport.com/minutes.cfm?select=26
  30. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/lincoln.htm
  31. ^ http://wikimapia.org/12178/Lincoln-Airport-LNK-KLNK

External links[edit]