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back to article Space shuttle Discovery lands after detour

Space shuttle Discovery has successfully landed at Edwards Air Force Base in north of Los Angeles, California, after bad weather ruled out a landing at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The shuttle touched down at 5:53pm Pacific, ending a 14 day-mission to the International Space Station. "Welcome home, Discovery," shuttle communicator …

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Paris Hilton

Just a question or two ...

1 - which is the most storm prone (storm as in can seriously affect powered flight) California or Florida?

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Welcome

Atacama

would be an ideal place to land - there are places there that have never experienced precipitation (ergo no clouds). in the atacama desert at night when you look up into the sky you are essentially looking straight out into space (and time)...

florida, you must avoid hurricanes and aligators...!?

wishing the crew a safe landing wherever they touch down...

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Thumb Up

They took the early landing window...

Just heard the double sonic boom at 5:48pm PDT.... I'm in LA, about 95 miles "up range" from Edwards.

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Silver badge

It made a nice boom.

That is all.

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Boffin

Landing sites

To the two people suggesting the shuttle should always land elsewhere (in California or the Atacama Desert):

- The landing site should ideally be the launch site. Otherwise you end up moving the shuttle across the country at a cost of $1.7m each time...

- To take advantage of the Earth's rotation, launches almost always head East. This way, the Earth's rotation gives the rocket some initial speed, which saves fuel. The Earth's rotation (measured in miles per hour at the surface) is strongest at the equator. The closer to the equator the launch site is, the less fuel you'll need and/or the more payload your rocket can carry.

- Having an ocean to launch over means there's less need to worry about things falling off the rocket, either deliberately or in an emergency. (E.g. the shuttle's boosters are jettisoned and will fall in the ocean, not on someone's house).

- The US government would rather launch from (and land in) US territory, as it means the jobs stay in the USA.

- Florida is about as close to the equator as you can get while still being in US territory, and it has a nice big ocean to the East for things to fall into. This makes it a good launch site.

Therefore Florida is a good landing site.

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Boffin

Re: Just a question or two ... #

Florida by far is the most storm prone--they have the most lightning strikes per year in the country. Being a peninsula with ocean on both sides provides lots of warm, moist air for thunderstorms.

Edwards AFB, on the other hand, is in the middle of a desert; they only "weather" they have is occasional winds.

netgeek

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Bronze badge

Still bloody amazing

I know it's been doing it for years, and we all know what it looks like, they've alas had a couple of fatal accidents, etc. etc. etc, but I still think the whole shuttle thing is bloody amazing. There's something undeniably cool about being able to land like that, walk down the steps and saying something like 'hey babe, I've just got in from outta space'. So much better than going splash in the ocean.

They don't say that (probably quite wisely these days...), but maybe if they get someone like Lambourgini or Zonda to style the next one it will mean the astronauts start getting all Zaphod on us.

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Re Just a question or two

Florida is certainly storm prone. The only weather problem at Edwards AFB is crosswinds.

And the Shuttle lands as a glider not a powered aircraft. Once it leaves orbit, it has to land at the chosen site 90 minutes later. So NASA has to be sure of the weather well in advance.

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@AC #1

The shuttle flies unpowered during landing.

The preferred site is Florida. Florida is storm prone and if there is a storm, than it must go to Edwards where it must be shipped expensively.

Hopefully they're not BOTH stormy at the same time. If the Shuttle had to land at some random, unequipped airport, the cost of shipping it home would be out of this world.

Such a scenario hasn't happened out of over 120 flights. But there's still several more to go.

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Silver badge

Ah, but takeoff is better on the East coast

Because there's plenty of ocean downrange to catch the bits that fall off.

You also want to be near the equator to minimise delta-V requirements.

Ariane takes off a bit further down south where the weather is better, but unfortunately NASA can't consider launch sites outside of the USA for some reason.

So they're basically forced to launch from Florida, which makes Florida the place they want to land.

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FAIL

"powered flight"?

Shuttle landings are not "powered flight". The Shuttle lands as a glider with the glideslope of a brick. That's why it's so sensitive to bad weather- it has almost no cross-range capability and it can't go around for crosswinds.

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Thumb Down

Is it just me, or NASA twee?

Does anyone else find the oompa-band approach of NASA's comminucations horribly twee at best, and mind-numbingly idiotic at worst?

Ok, yes, they went to space, and came back in one piece. I'd want a beer, not hoopla, spangles and marching bands.

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Gold badge

This is news?

Call me back when they land somewhere unplanned and are greeted by apes on horseback wearing clothes and carrying rifles...

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Flame

@This is news

I should hope so! The day human beings being fired into space and then coming safely home again isn't news will be a sad day indeed.

Flame because well you know rockets!

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Unhappy

@ @This is news

It isn't news if a plane crosses the Atlantic and lands safely at Heathrow, is it? Manned sub-orbital and orbital flight should have been equally routine by now.

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