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  Space Cover 183: STS Abort Landing Sites

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 183: STS Abort Landing Sites
yeknom-ecaps
Member

Posts: 458
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 10-14-2012 09:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 183 (October 14, 2012)

Space Cover #183: STS Abort Landing Sites

Landings of the shuttle have occurred at KSC and Edwards AFB, with one additional landing for STS-3 occurring at WSMR. But just as important during launch and during the mission were many abort landing sites in case there was an emergency during the launch and the flight had to be aborted. Weather conditions had to be acceptable at all of the assigned abort landing site locations for a launch to take place. Depending on the mission launch profile (such as the direction/angle the launch would take) determined which east coast locations were assigned. The trans-Atlantic locations changed over time but at all times several participated with each launch.

All sites have runways of sufficient length to support the landing of a space shuttle. For the sites used in the mission profile each site would have personnel from NASA as well as equipment to aid a space shuttle landing. The picture below shows the "barrier" erected on the runway to "catch" the shuttle if it had to land at the Moron Air Base for STS-66.

Sites on the East Coast of the United States and Canada could have been used for an East Coast Abort Landing (ECAL) situation include: Myrtle Beach International Airport, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Wilmington International Airport, North Carolina; 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.

For aborts that would take place later during the launch phase international locations designated as Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites included Lajes Air Base in Terceira island, Azores, Portugal, Zaragoza Air Base in Spain, Moron Air Base in Spain, and Istres Air Base in France. 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. Zaragoza Air Base features Runway 30L with a length of 12,109 ft.; Moron Air Base features an 11,800 ft. runway; and Istres Air Base features Runway 33 with a length of 12,303 ft. Other TAL sites include Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory; Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany; Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco; Casablanca, Morocco; Banjul International Airport, The Gambia; Dakar, Senegal; Rota, Spain; and Kano, Nigeria.

For West Coast sites for the launches to have taken place from Vandenberg AFB the shuttle could have returned to Vandenberg or had a TAL situation arisen Hao and Easter Islands in the Pacific Ocean would have been the TAL sites.

The cover above is a cover from Rota, Spain as the abort landing site for the STS-7 launch. Can you complete a collection of all the shuttle landing sites?

Bob M
Member

Posts: 1367
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 10-16-2012 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting topic. Didn't realize that there were so many possible Orbiter emergency landing sites.

Shown here are covers for two more TAL sites. The top cover is canceled at Serekunda, a city about 7 miles from Banjul, The Gambia. The actual airport used was Yundum International Airport. This cover was canceled at Serekunda for the launch of STS-46.

The bottom cover, from Tim Preston, is for the launch of STS-33 and has a US Air Force Postal Service/APO cancel from Moron Air Base, Spain.

Fezman92
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Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 10-16-2012 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could have sworn I read that the Atlantic City International Airport was an Abort site because it is home to an F-16 fighter wing.

yeknom-ecaps
Member

Posts: 458
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 10-16-2012 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fezman92:
I could have sworn I read that the Atlantic City International Airport was an Abort site because it is home to an F-16 fighter wing.

In researching - you are correct - with sites constantly being added or deleted there is no "complete" list that I am aware of. I am sure there are others that are not on the list in my initial post.

In the event of an emergency deorbit that would bring the shuttle down in an area not within range of a designated emergency landing site, the shuttle was theoretically capable of landing on any paved runway that was at least 3 km (9,800 ft) long, which includes the majority of large commercial airports. In practice, a US or allied military airfield would be preferred for reasons of security arrangements and minimizing the disruption of commercial air traffic. But in an emergency preferred would not always be the option available.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 10-16-2012 09:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Slightly OT: I worked for a newspaper in Browns Mills, close to what is now Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. As part of my duties, I "pasted" together the newspaper in Quark, printing out pages to proofread before sending it off to be printed for real. I was tempted to do a dummy front page reading "Shuttle lands at McGuire," complete with an appropriate landing pic, but was afraid it would make its way as a real page, so I never did.

A shuttle landing at McGuire would have been somewhat believable since they fly C-141s and C-17s...

All times are CT (US)

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