Index Home About Blog
From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Landing Sites
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 23:40:43 GMT

In article <>,
Tyrone Deane  <> wrote:
>Does anyone know the other landing sites which the space shuttle will
>land in the event it cannot land at Cape Canaveral?

There are only two normal landing sites:  KSC, and Edwards AFB.  Normally
the shuttle will wait in orbit for one of those two to be available.

The list of preferred emergency landing sites is rather longer and changes
somewhat over time, due to considerations like politics.  Last I heard, it
was considered confidential.  It's plausible that Calgary might be on it.

>I think Edwards Air
>Force Base is #2 on the list. The reason I ask it that someone once told
>me that Calgary (where I live) is #5 on the list as our airport has a
>really long runway which the shuttle needs for landing.

I don't think there's any such order of preference; an emergency landing
at Calgary would be dictated by that being the site most quickly
accessible from where they happened to be in orbit, not by the status of
other sites.

In an emergency, you land where you can, and that means that any airport
with a long runway and good electronics is a good bet.  The preferred-
emergency-sites list just tells the crew which ones are considered best.

If both KSC and Edwards were persistently unavailable for some reason, but
there was no rush, almost certainly they would try to land at some major
military airbase in the continental US.  For one thing, the landing
guidance system is currently TACAN, which is a US military navigation aid
normally found only at US military bases (although I believe the shuttle
is starting a changeover to GPS).  For another, it would make arrangements
simpler to keep it within the US and on government turf.  Columbia did
land once at White Sands Missile Range (although they later regretted it
because of problems with the blowing gypsum dust getting into things).
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.       |  Henry Spencer
It should be shut down.  -- Phil Agre   |      (aka

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Landing Sites
Date: Tue, 30 May 2000 03:49:50 GMT

In article <>,
Allen W. McDonnell <> wrote:
>...on top of that
>factor a few bits of sand got tracked into the shuttle and turned out to be
>hard to get back out.  Puportedly they were still finding fine grain dust in
>the shuttle three months after they started cleaning/refurbishing it.

Worse than that, actually.  Take fine gypsum dust -- it's not just sand,
worse luck -- distribute it well into nooks and crannies, and then fly the
whole thing to a nice damp place like Florida, giving it plenty of time to
sit in the humid air before getting it into air conditioning.  Comes time
to vacuum that gypsum dust out, and it won't vacuum, because it's set rock
hard.  Guess what plaster of paris is made from...
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.       |  Henry Spencer
It should be shut down.  -- Phil Agre   |      (aka

Index Home About Blog