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NASA Space Shuttle STS-135 Press Kit

NASA Space Shuttle STS-135 Press Kit


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Published by Orion2015
NASA press kit for the STS-135 Space Shuttle mission to the ISS. Published by NASA in July 2011.
NASA press kit for the STS-135 Space Shuttle mission to the ISS. Published by NASA in July 2011.

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Published by: Orion2015 on Jul 31, 2011
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With a single exception, all space shuttle
landings have been at Kennedy Space Center in

Florida or at Edwards Air Force Base in
California. Columbia on STS-3, the third flight
of the program, landed March 30, 1982, at
White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.

Of the 132 landings through STS-134, 77
have been at KSC and 54 at Edwards. Of the
Edwards landings, 19 were on lakebed runways
and one, Endeavour’s STS-126 flight on
Nov. 23, 2008, was on a temporary asphalt

The remaining 34 Edwards landings were on
concrete runways. The New Mexico landing,
STS-3 on March 30, 1982, was on a dry gypsum

A total of 24 landings have been at night.
Eighteen of those were at KSC and six were at

Kennedy Space Center

KSC is the preferred landing site. Its
15,000-foot concrete runway is 300 feet wide
and has 1,000-foot overruns at each end.

The single runway, designated runway 15 or
runway 33 depending on the direction of
landing, is grooved and 15 inches thick at its

At about the midpoint of the runway’s length
and just east of it is a recovery convoy staging
area. There trailers, mobile units and other
specially designed vehicles await the orbiter.
They safe the orbiter just after landing, help get
the crew off and transfer the spacecraft to
the orbiter processing facility. Typically a
returning orbiter can be in the OPF about
four hours after landing.

Adjacent to the runway is a 490- by 550-foot
parking apron with a mate/demate device at

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one corner to raise and lower the orbiter from
atop the shuttle carrier aircraft.

The parking area is connected by a two-mile
tow way to the Orbiter Processing Facility. An
Edwards landing and return of the orbiter atop
its carrier aircraft adds perhaps a week to the
spacecraft’s reaching the OPF.

Construction of the shuttle landing facility was
completed in 1976. The first shuttle landing
there was on Feb. 11, 1984, by Challenger
on STS-41-B, the 10th shuttle flight. Two
subsequent landings by Discovery were made
there on the 14th and 16th shuttle flights,
STS-51-A on Nov. 16, 1984, and STS-51-D
April 19, 1985.

Brake and tire damage caused suspension of
KSC shuttle landings. The next orbiter landing
there was Atlantis on STS-38 on Nov. 20, 1990.

The facility has a number of advance navigation
aids to help shuttles land, as do other actual
and potential landing sites.

Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards is in the Mojave Desert about
100 miles east of Los Angeles. Its Rogers Dry
Lake bed was used for landings in early space
shuttle test, and it was the primary landing site
for the shuttle until late 1990. The lakebed has
been used by military aircraft since the early

There are seven runways drawn on the lakebed,
crisscrossing one another. The longest extends
7.5 miles. The main Edwards concrete runway
is next to the dry lakebed. With its 15,000-foot
length with a 9,000-foot lakebed overrun, it is
among the world’s longest runways.

Edwards and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research
Center, a base tenant, were important in
approach and landing tests with Enterprise, the
prototype orbiter that never flew in space.
Dryden also contributed to development of the
shuttle thermal protection system, solid rocket
booster recovery system, flight control system
computer software and the orbiter drag chutes.

Edwards remains the preferred shuttle backup
landing site and serves as an emergency
landing site for the shuttle.

White Sands Space Harbor

Located on White Sands Missile Range in
southern New Mexico, the White Sands Space
Harbor remains a backup shuttle landing site
and is the primary training area for shuttle
pilots flying practice approaches and landings
in the shuttle training aircraft and T-38 chase

The White Sands Test Facility, part of the
Johnson Space Center, operates White Sands
Space Harbor (WSSH), the WSSH complex built
on a dry gypsum lakebed to simulate actual
shuttle landing facilities in United States and
abroad. It is a shuttle backup landing facility
and was used during the landing of STS-3 in
March 1982.

Two operational runways are 35,000 feet long
and 300 feet wide. Both are 15,000 feet long
with 10,000-foot overruns on each end. In 1989,
a third runway was constructed to allow pilots
to practice Transatlantic Abort Landings (TAL).
The TAL runway is 12,800 feet long and 150 feet
wide, smaller and narrower than the primary

It is an abort-once-around landing facility. It
was primary for high inclination launches and



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secondary for International Space Station
missions. All three runways are prepared
continuously for training missions, and the
north-south and east-west runways are laser
leveled to a tolerance of plus or minus an inch
in 1,000 feet to be ready for shuttle landings.

Contingency Landing Sites

Contingency sites are identified for each shuttle
mission, depending on the inclination of launch
(the angle to the equator), the nature of
the potential problem and the availability of
possible landing sites.

Each shuttle mission has at least two TAL sites
in its contingency plan. They are selected
shortly before launch, based on weather

Shuttle missions to the space station have
focused on TAL sties at Istres, France, and
Zaragoza and Morón, Spain. For lower
inclination flights, Ben Guerir, Morocco, and
Banjul in the Gambia had been used.

Banjul was discontinued as a TAL site in
November 2002 and Ben Guerir was last
used in that capacity in June 2002. Earlier,
Dakar Senegal had been used, but was replaced
by Banjul in 1988. Casablanca, Morocco, had
been used until January 1986.

A number of emergency landing sites, which
could be used in the event of a sudden problem
necessitating return to Earth, have been
selected. In practice, the shuttle could land on
any paved runway at least 9,800 feet long, as
are runways of most large commercial airports.
A military landing facility would be preferred,
because of security and to avoid disruption of a
civilian airport.

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