Just a question or two ...
1 - which is the most storm prone (storm as in can seriously affect powered flight) California or Florida?
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 …
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019