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  Space Shuttles - Space Station
  Chase Planes

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Author Topic:   Chase Planes
trajan
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posted 11-16-2006 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for trajan   Click Here to Email trajan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi,

I was wondering if somebody could answer a question which has quietly bugged me for over a year now:

During the very early Shuttle landings, T-38 chase planes were very evident, flying extremely close to the orbiter, yet on coverage of recent landings, I never see them, although often hear jet noise on the sound.

Do T-38's still accompany the orbiter as it comes in? If so, how many are there and have they changed the rules, e.g. distance, number, etc. since the early days?

Thanks,

Jason

mjanovec
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From: Midwest, USA
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posted 11-16-2006 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the chase planes on the early shuttle missions helped to verify that the orbiter was in suitable condition for landing and, as the orbiter was directly above the runway, to verify that the wheels had been extended. Remember that the earliest shuttle missions had ejection seats, so ejection was an option if the one of the wheels did not come down.

In fact, ejection on approach to landing was probably the only time a safe ejection could have been made...although "safe" is a relative term.

Philip
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From: Brussels, Belgium
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posted 11-17-2006 06:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe there's always at least one T-38 airborne during a Shuttle landing in order to assist whenever possible (e.g. visual checks).
Also NASA has 1 or 2 (Huey-type)helicopters in the air...
During launches, take-off of STS is montored from a Martin WB-57 modified 'bomber' aircraft.

OV-105
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From: Ridgecrest, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2000

posted 11-18-2006 10:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first flight that didn't have any chace planes on landing was STS-7. One of Crip's FL landings that happened in CA. I belive STS 41-B (first FL landing) was the last flight that had chase planes. As the shuttle flew more the systems were proven so the "back up" of a chase plane was not needed. Now the STA has been know to call in as a chase plane once in a while. There are some photos where the STA is flying behind the shuttle.

trajan
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posted 11-19-2006 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for trajan   Click Here to Email trajan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the replies, guys!

Jason

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