Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Shuttle Reentry Over the Continental US

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the boom-boom dept.

NASA 139

TheOtherChimeraTwin notes that the shuttle Discovery will land at Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning at 8:48 EDT. The craft will make a rare "descending node" overflight of the continental US en route to landing in Florida. Here are maps of the shuttle's path if is lands on orbit 222 as planned, or on the next orbit. Spaceweather.com says: "...it takes the shuttle about 35 minutes to traverse the path shown... Observers in the northwestern USA will see the shuttle shortly after 5 am PDT blazing like a meteoric fireball through the dawn sky. As Discovery makes its way east, it will enter daylight and fade into the bright blue background. If you can't see the shuttle, however, you might be able to hear it. The shuttle produces a sonic double-boom that reaches the ground about a minute and a half after passing overhead."

cancel ×

139 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Watch the touch down too! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31890978)

Watch the touch down too! I rewrote the nose wheel steering GN&C module in '89 and the stuff that makes landings "perfect" in '91. They were blowing tires with rough landings. Since then, the touch downs are PERFECT and smooooooooooth.

Hi JV, KM, DC, BW, AR, LP, SM, JY, PP, and the rest of the old GN&C team!

Re:Watch the touch down too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891046)

Hahahaha, old geeks are so cute :)

Re:Watch the touch down too! (3, Interesting)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891326)

Careful - we wrote all the code that your systems call ... have you noticed how people don't actually write new stuff anymore? They just connect existing stuff together?

In the bank where I currently work, there is a palimpset of systems, and if you dig far enough, there is the old COBOL stuff, still bashing out the bytes.

Eventually, all the old COBOL programmers are going to retire and/or die and then all the banking systems in the world will be running on code written and support by - who, exactly?

Now get off my lawn! Old geeks indeed. Pah.

Re:Watch the touch down too! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891798)

I didn't think /. allowed dumb fucks.

Time? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892820)

The first orbit is of great interest, because it goes right overhead (Ft. Peck, Montana.) Need to find out when.

Re:Time? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892908)

From what I can gather, they plan to do the de-orbit burn at 5:30 MST, and land by 6:48 MST, so the sun will hit them and any visible atmospheric disturbances and so they should be visible, clouds permitting. I've set my alarm and plan to be outside with a 400mm lens and a 15 mp camera. If I catch 'em, I'll post a link to the images here.

They'll only go over me if orbit 222 is the one, though. Here's hoping. Mach 22. Hoo-ah.

Re:Watch the touch down too! (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893836)

I didn't think /. allowed dumb fucks.

You must be new here.

Re:Watch the touch down too! (1)

nobodie (1555367) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892736)

I wish I had my old addition and subtraction decks from when I programmed an ENIAC back in '69 ( a present from Princeton to my high school), now that was real programming, none of that namby-pamby assembler stuff I did in the late 70's (for fun with a trash 80) my ex-wife was the COBOL programmer, but she hits retirement in two years. Yup, the old days, now, where did i leave my glasses?

Re:Watch the touch down too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891052)

And I was part of the bay door SW team! It used to jam all the time, but after my rewrite, it's like BUTTAH.

Shout out to all my peeps on the SKS team: JHC, GFY, TI, TS, SR, GT, FU!

Re:Watch the touch down too! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891324)

I was part of the historic toilet software rewrite of '95. Before, shit was flying all over the shuttle. After, it hurtles off into space just like Frank Poole.

A big Yo! to all my homies: WTF, BAMF, KKK, LIM III, TJ (RIP), and the rest of the virtual commodonauts. Flush on!

SR .... is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31894312)

Hey man! It's been years!

I moved onto the new MCC project, then left to make my millions. I hear they are still having issues with the crapper and someone is actually drinking their piss now. They claim it is to save water.

I heard about the debacle with the "fitting" on the pisser. Seems the prototype you built was - er -- a little small. I told you most men were bigger than THAT. Also, sorry to hear your wife left you the day after you were married. Lot's of other fish in the sea. Perhaps you should look for Asian women?

Re:Watch the touch down too! (-1, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891422)

Why did you check the AC box? Because half the users of this site would befriend you otherwise? Or because you’re just making it up? ^^

Re:Watch the touch down too! (0, Troll)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891888)

Why did you check the AC box?

Because half the users of this site would befriend you otherwise

Why even post? Because you're an angsty little attention-seeking /.Genius(R)-wannabe piece of shit who has to doubt anyone who makes a random ass claim with no reason to lie and ask them questions you answer for yourself a punctuation mark later?

Re:Watch the touch down too! (0, Troll)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891928)

Sorry dog maybe I was a little bit harsh on you -- I apologize for what I said earlier.

PS: As a friend, I just wanted to let you know your signature is absolutely, ridiculously stupid and makes no fucking sense at all.
PS2: Quick question - are you a hurricane, man? Or is your handle an attempt to subconsciously make the fat women of Slashdot think your scrawny ass is capable of sweeping them off their feet?
PS3: Is that supposed to be an emoticon at the end of your post? If so, are you serious? Eyebrows? What the fuck kind of emotion are two stationary perfectly-arched iBrows supposed to convey?
PS4: [yet to be announced by Sony yet]

Love,
10mg

Re:Watch the touch down too! (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891428)

I rewrote the nose wheel steering GN&C module in '89 and the stuff that makes landings "perfect" in '91.

Big deal. I just killed Zeus in God of War III.

Re:Watch the touch down too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31894376)

And how much were you paid to accomplish that great feet?
Who will see what you've done later? My code has been controlling the space shuttle for 20+ years and has been seen by 80% of the humans on the planet. A few of the old team work for medical device makers now writing software for pacemakers. I bet your Pop will be happy to know people can still make bug free software that doesn't need a reboot - ever. Guess where we all learned how to do that? Working on PASS GN&C software for NASA.

What important human achievement have you aided with your life work? I'm certain that last "tweet" was impressive, not. Please, please, tell me about something important to humanity that you've done. Please.

Oh, and I can truthfully say - "I'm a rocket scientist."
Priceless.

Get off my lawn and DO SOMETHING USEFUL. Anything useful.

Re:Watch the touch down too! (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31894418)

Kind of ironic that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that was a joke.

Well, maybe not (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891510)

The weather [weather.gov] looks a bit grim for a KSC landing.

Re:Well, maybe not (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892148)

The weather [weather.gov] at Edwards for the following three days is only a little better. Its either Edwards on Monday, or Canaveral on Tuesday.

Re:Well, maybe not (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892484)

Even White Sands looks iffy. [weather.gov] Guess it'll be another day or so before deorbit. Disappointing, but nothing new.

Re:Well, maybe not (1)

Ancient123 (724901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892738)

Dear god/NOAA/NASA please have a landing in white sands with >2 hours of warning. Not only would my bosses let me off to drive down and see it they would probably car-pool a company van....

Mach _ (4, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890980)

At first I thought those were March X and was going to congratulate NASA on conquering time travel.

Re:Mach _ (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891352)

Dude, without your comment I’d STILL think ‘why did he say 35 minutes, when the image shows it taking days to fly that distance? And why would it fly so slow and away from the space center anyway?”

By the way: I am a time traveler too!
Right now I am at 02:29:15.
And now I am at 02:29:28! Whoohooo!
Now wait a minute, and I’ll jump a whole minute into future! ;)

So fast, so dangerous (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31890996)

The shuttle comes in like a bat out of hell, but I wonder if there couldn't be a more aerodynamic shape it could use to reduce the friction from the atmosphere. The shuttle is like a giant wing catching as much air as possible. It doesn't seem to be the best design to minimize drag...

Re:So fast, so dangerous (5, Insightful)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891012)

I'm not sure minimizing drag is the goal when you start your landing approach at Mach 22.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

fredrik70 (161208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31894354)

would be a great contender for fastest thing on land, just need to extend the landing strip a little bit!

Re:So fast, so dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891022)

When you're coming out of orbit, you don't want to minimize drag. You want to slow your ass down. Don't forget that reentry begins at a velocity of 17000 mph

Re:So fast, so dangerous (5, Insightful)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891048)

Drag is a good thing on reentry, where you are slowing down as fast as the heat shield will let you. The shuttle acts a glider only for the very last part, and hence doesn't need to be a very good one. It may look like a plane but it really spends more time acting like a rocket.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891120)

Drag is a good thing on reentry, where you are slowing down as fast as the heat shield will let you.

Why slow down as fast as possible? It's not like the shuttle couldn't spend a few hours gradually slowing down at a safe altitude.

Or is there a reason they want it to come in as fast as possible?

Re:So fast, so dangerous (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891262)

You want to lose as much of the speed as possible in the initial stages of reentry, high in the atmosphere; before you hit the dense parts. In those higher areas the lift to keep you up there longer could only be produced basically almost at orbital speeds...while what you want to do is slow down.

Shuttle actually "flies" in a quite un-aerodynamic position through large part of reentry preciselly to maximise drag.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893274)

There is another reason, too. The shuttle was designed as a _military_ craft. They don't want it being an easy target on reentry, so it comes in fast and over the continental US. If it were to come in slow, or over the ocean, it would be a target.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891838)

spend a few hours gradually slowing down at a safe altitude

Slowing down how, exactly?

Right. At the extreme, there's two choices.

a) come down dragging its ass on the outer atmosphere like a water-skier who doesn't know when to let go, or

b) burn up shitloads of fuel trying to produce a straight-line descent from geosynchronous orbit.

Thus, the more fuel you want to spend, the less time you need to spend getting a cosmic air-wedgie. Problem is having to carry that fuel up there to begin with.

Cheers.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892204)

b) burn up shitloads of fuel trying to produce a straight-line descent from geosynchronous orbit.

The shuttle doesn't get anywhere near geosynchronous orbit, nor does it ever descend from it. As for fuel, the energy to get down is about the same to get up there, for the dry weight of the shuttle anyway. The "using fuel to lift fuel" problem is left to the student as an exercise.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31892860)

You're right, I misspoke.

The goal of such a powered descent would, clearly enough, be the avoidance of high temperature aerodynamic braking effects. Simply put, slow down to atmospheric cruise speeds before entering the atmosphere.

The difficulty comes from the unidirectional nature of rocket exhaust, thrust reversal schemes notwithstanding. We're talking about a lot of thrust sustained for a significant amount of time; once below orbital speed, the engines must be used to maintain altitude. A shuttle would have to turn about so its ass was leading and canted downward. This sounds well and good until you realize that it must either land like this, or turn itself around and fly normally at some point.

Such a maneuver inevitably means a period of ballistic free-fall during the required aerobatics. The shuttle isn't very good at aerobatics, and IMHO is very likely to hit the ground like a seagull turd on a windshield without ever regaining control. The maneuver would have to be too close to the ground at too low an apparent air speed.

The only safe way to do it, would be to yaw the shuttle ass-first while still well clear of the atmosphere, and apply sufficient thrust to actually reverse its motion relative to the air below; this would leave the engine still pointing "into" the orbit, and correctly positioned to maintain altitude, with the aerodynamic surfaces already near the right angles. To get there, the shuttle had to pass through the (decaying) orbital velocity corresponding to geosynchronous for that altitude.

In retrospect, a simpler way: there are infinite geosynchronous orbits, just only one that's stable without pumping energy into it. A powered descent means passing through the unstable variety.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893048)

Huh! You need thrust and/or bigger wings to come down slower.

Thrust needs fuel, so that idea is out, since if you take a look at the figure for the total weight of the Shuttle+SRBs at the launch pad and compare it to its landing weight, you will understand they burnt many times the shuttles body weight to get it up there, so where exactly are they going to put this area fuel and then you need more fuel to get to extra fuel up there too. Fuel is also expensive. This idea just doesn't work you see.

Unfortuntely the air doesn't start to be affected by drag until 95,000 foot up, and as someone else pointed out they are already travelling at Mach 24. Also the air is VERY thin which means in order for it to glide up there it needs to have a wing area (to catch the air, yes thats how wings work they literally hang on the air, FWIW there is no air in space, so they dont work in space!). Of course bigger wings will also make the craft heavier, so in order to win this equation you need a less dense aircraft.

So they come down as fast as gravity and heat-sheild temperature resistance allows. Yes the pilot does have some kind of control on the way down, the shuttle can still pitch and roll in such as way as they catch as much drag as the heat-sheild allows, there is also a manouvre called S turns performed to increase the distance travelled for height lost, by travelling the extra distance the drag can act for longer and reduces the speed.more.

Not as much "glider" as "brick" ;) (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891256)

1. Well, during re-entry it's not entering nose-first, but belly-first, so the wings basically like air brakes more than like wings. I'm not sure if making it more aerodynamic for flight like an aircraft would actually be an impediment there. It would still have the aerodynamics of a parachute when re-entering belly-first anyway.

2. Well, "glide" is technically accurate, but maybe painting a slightly wrong image for the layman. That thing is losing altitude (falling) at 50m/s (about 110mph or 180 km/h) even in its best glide phase. And it's glide-to-drag ratio is more comparable to a parachute, and I don't mean paraglider, than to an aircraft even at touchdown, during earlier phases let's just say it's got about half as much lift/drag as a squirrel ;)

The angle of descent at touchdown is actually 20 degrees, which doesn't sound like too steep, but it's about 7 times steeper than a commercial airliner landing. By comparison to just about any fixed wing aircraft, it's not akin landing an anvil or the proverbial lead duck ;)

Not saying it's a bad thing, since it does have a _lot_ of altitude and speed to shed, and it's obviously doing a good job at thazt. More like just saying, for the benefit of whoever needs that kind of clarification, that it never actually acts that much like a normal glider, not even on the very last part. Or at least not like a glider you'd want to pilot for fun. All it can do is fall, and quite rapidly at that, just in a more controlled manner. It's a shape to do just one thing: fall down from 340,000m or so (about a million feet) to the ground without going *SPLAT* on touchdown. While techically there is some gliding involved, I think the best description of its role for the layman is more like "rigid parachute" than "glider."

What does a squirrel making re-entry sound like? (1)

this great guy (922511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891850)

WOOOOOOOOOSH.

Re:What does a squirrel making re-entry sound like (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892308)

WOOOOOOOOOSH.

Was that the joke, or just the shuttle? *shakes watch*

Re:Not as much "glider" as "brick" ;) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893264)

So what you're basically saying is:

It's Falling, with Style!

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891946)

It may look like a plane but it really spends more time acting like a rock.

FTFY

Drag is a good thing. (1)

BigMeanBear (102490) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893260)

I believe I'm going to have to throw a giggity on that one--or at least a "that's what she said".

Re:Drag is a good thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893300)

Erm, that's actually a "that's what he said"

Re:So fast, so dangerous (2, Funny)

tzot (834456) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891094)

You know what? That's a great idea. Likewise, I always thought that I need to reduce the friction that the brake pads constantly apply on my car's wheels. I've heard that any kind of oily substance might help, but synthetic motor oils are preferred because they withstand higher temperatures. Imagine the fuel economy (after that subtle modification, I'll only need to refuel the vehicle only once during its lifetime).

Re:So fast, so dangerous (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891108)

You know what else has really bad aerodynamics and catches all kinds of drag in the atmosphere? Meteorites.

And your mama.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891338)

Meteorites

a) are speedier

b) have significantly lower volume to mass ratio than our reentry vehicles (hence what you propose, essentially - quite small amounts of drag per the unit of energy carried (which is also higher generally thanks to a)))

c) enter the atmosphere typically at much more steep angle

All in all, often still carrying lots of energy when hitting denser atmosphere. Where they lose large part of their mass to ablation, often shatter. We don't want to do that with our vehicles.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (2, Funny)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891464)

but what about your momma?

Re:So fast, so dangerous (2, Funny)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891556)

  Depends on her surface area to mass ration ;-)

SB

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 4 years ago | (#31894258)

Depends on her surface area to mass ration

Indeed, all those rations have taken a toll on her curves. :(

Re:So fat, so dangerous (2, Funny)

machine321 (458769) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891590)

Your mama

a) is dumber

b) has a significantly higher volume and mass than our reentry vehicles, and essentially wears quite small amounts of drag

c) enters the atmosphere extremely fat

All in all, often still carrying lots of weight because she's so dense. Where she loses a large part of her mass to ablation, often shatters. We don't want to do that with your momma.

Re:So fat, so dangerous (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891980)

You wanta play the dozens, well the dozens is a game. When ablation hits your momma it's a goddamn shame.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891568)

  Compared to the shuttle, meteorites are practically drag free. They don't glide at all.

SB

Re:So fast, so dangerous (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891124)

Its supposed to catch as much air as possible, thats how it slows down from Mach 22 to 250 knots in 35 minutes.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892680)

Half in Mach, half in Knots .... I can't follow you! Now, slow down cowboy, and tell us how much is that in furlongs per fortnight.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (2, Informative)

Criliric (879949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893414)

mach 22 = 45 014 740.2 furlongs per fortnight 250 knots = 773 323.789 furlongs per fortnight :)

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

sarduwie (1571169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31894222)

I always use Google to convert between imperial and metric, and it even does the mach to furlongs/fortnight conversion... impressive! :D
http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en#hl=en&source=hp&q=mach+22+in+furlongs%2Ffortnight&aq=f&aqi=h1&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=a2bb30ecf4f91972 [google.com]
Anyone got any other obscure units of measurement and/or time we could test? :)

Re:So fast, so dangerous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893890)

??
What are machknots? whats that in Km /hr?

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891156)

Orbital mechanics determines the speed required to be in orbit. It is fairly simple physics and about 17,000 MPH for all objects.

Landing implies a ZERO speed relative to the rotation of the Earth at the landing sight.

You need to get the vehicle from 17,000 MPH to zero. There are many ways to accomplish that, but many less if you want to reuse the vehicle and want the people inside not to fry or wait for the last second to "stop." Within these limitations and thousands of others for weight, payload sizes, number of people, some political issues, the shuttle was designed to use air friction to slow it down. They actually fly in S-turns to both slow it and release some of the built up heat to the atmosphere. It is a controller burning of the protective tiles, when it all works.

Being more aerodynamic would mean the shuttle wouldn't slow down enough to land safely.

Being less aerodynamic would probably mean it would need to weigh SIGNIFICANTLY more to handle the added stress placed on the vehicle.

BTW, Mach number only has meaning with their is atmosphere since it is related to the local speed of sound that the vehicle is flying/falling through. In space, there is no Mach number and it changes as you fly though different atmospheric conditions.

The Space Shuttles are about the size of a DC-10 intercontinental aircraft holding over 250 passengers and glides to a landing. There is only 1 chance to land it where you want it. If you miss the runway, I doubt the vehicle will be usable again. $4B gone each ... or $25M for a museum.

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891506)

How would it slow down without friction? You don’t want it to have no friction with air, or it will land like a meteorite, causing a hole too deep to get their pulverized remains dug out again afterwards. ;)

Re:So fast, so dangerous (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892166)

That's because it's end goal is to land on the runway, not embed itself a few hundred feet into it.

trolltalk's reentry over the continental /. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891040)

moot farted. [slashdot.org]

Anyone who has seen it before... (4, Interesting)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891064)

What should I look for, about 500 miles straight-line distance along the path from the runway?

Last time I had this chance, I think I saw a plane cross the sky, but it seemed too slow.

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891126)

What should I look for, about 500 miles straight-line distance along the path from the runway?

Last time I had this chance, I think I saw a plane cross the sky, but it seemed too slow.

Considering the age of those things I don't think it will be hard. Just look for a ball of flame and chunks falling out of the sky.

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (3, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891158)

Click the link in the summary ... it draws you a pretty picture. If you live within 500 miles of the runway, ask your neighbor, every Floridian has probably seen at least one reentry.

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (1)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891334)

I'm in west Alabama, so I don't know many people who really know what it should look like.

I'm not looking for a ground track or even a sky track, which are at that page... I'm more wondering if I should be looking for a fast streak across the sky (or perhaps as slow as a passenger jet), would it be orange or just look like a plane, about how high would it be (as high as a passenger jet, or maybe lower), would it have a smoke trail, etc. Just visual cues that would let me know that what I'm seeing is the shuttle.

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (1)

Target Practice (79470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892814)

I saw a reentry once back in 1999, but it was a night landing. I would describe it as a slow moving BRIGHT light, trailed by a glowing white tail. You really can't miss it once you find it.

Here's a video on youtube of the same reentry I was describing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts_pS0BM95o [youtube.com]

HTH

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891360)

What should I look for, about 500 miles straight-line distance along the path from the runway?

Last time I had this chance, I think I saw a plane cross the sky, but it seemed too slow.

I saw it from the Bay Area once when it was landing at Edwards, which is a pretty similar distance. Look for a fast, bright, colored object that would probably be interpreted as a sign of the apocalypse a couple hundred years ago. It won't be subtle.

Re: What it will look like (2, Informative)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891770)

I've seen reentry across Austin (and not the time it broke up smarty pants). Have you ever seen the ISS or a satellite crossing the sky? It looked kinda like that. The shuttle was a bright dot streaking across the horizon very fast, a good 3 times faster than a commercial plane, and left a contrail that hung in the air for a while. Contrail is a misnomer since it stands for condensation trail. What it really is leaving is a trail of ionized gas and ablated material off the orbiter. A minute later I heard a faint sonic double boom.

At the distance you are at, it will be lower, meaning you will have less range you can see it over, so I'd imagine it will still appear to be going very fast (and it will be fast). I think it should be just above supersonic, so you should hear the boom. I doubt it will still be leaving a contrail. I don't think you'll be able to miss it.

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (1)

wtmoose (639328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892058)

Saw it once in Austin late 2001. It pretty much looked like a contrail made out of fire. It moved slowly, but eventually spanned the entire sky. For a few moments I thought it was a plane bombing (this was right after 9/11). If it passes overhead, you can't miss it.

Re:Anyone who has seen it before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893456)

ummmm sorry but there's nothing interesting about this fucking post. Why the fuck is it marked as plus five fucking intersting? jesus fucking christ!

Hell ya! (1)

jcarkeys (925469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891162)

Looking at the map, it's going to be flying right about over my head. I know what I'm going to be doing tomorrow morning.

I miss those booms (1)

EsJay (879629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891202)

Shuttle sonic booms were a perk for me living in LA, whenever it landed at Vandenburg. Those in the path, set your alarms!

Re:I miss those booms (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891348)

Shuttle sonic booms were a perk for me living in LA, whenever it landed at Vandenburg.

Edwards. It never landed at Vandenburg,

Re:I miss those booms (1)

Existential Wombat (1701124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891516)

Yes, I saw it land once at Edwards. We drove 3 hours just to see it. A big anticlimax, but I am still glad I did it.

Re:I miss those booms (1)

RoboRay (735839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891450)

Vandenberg was proposed as an alternate launch site for polar orbiting flights, as it allowed overwater launches to the south. No such launches ever occurred, however. I don't believe Vandenberg was ever considered as a landing site.

Why is Barak Hussain Obama ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31891356)

.. so Fucking desprite to kill the Shuttle Program?

It would be funny to see BHO kidnapped, shackled, and had his ass kicked within a second of death.

Only to wake up and realize that he would have shit kicked out of him again.

Give no mercy child.

Re:Why is Barak Hussain Obama ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893384)

Are you REALLY that stupid? Or just trolling?
President Obama had nothing whatsoever to do with deciding when the shuttle program would end, that was decided when it STARTED.

If only your god would give you a clue. And as you sow, so shall ye reap.

need new ratings (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31894546)

At times like this, I wish slashdot would get a few more troll labels. There should be term for a slightly entertaining troll, then there should be a term for this guy whose goal is to tick people off. Some of them make me laugh, and I'd miss them if they left, but this is just sad.

Oh right, stay on topic. Ummm they should fly the shuttle through the volcanic ash, just to show they can do it. It doesn't have any intakes to damage, right? Yeah I know it's stupid for a dozen other reasons. Oh well.

clearly you were born (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893420)

with a big black cock in your mouth. yummy!

Pierre, SD (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891496)

  I hope the map in the link wasn't meant to be accurate. They misplaced Pierre, SD by quite a ways east of where it is - that's closer to Mitchell, SD :-)

  Still, if it's going to pass over Pierre, it should be visible from where I'm at, if I can get up early enough to climb one of the hills here and still make it to work an hour later...

SB

Publicity? (1)

CHatRPI (627527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891504)

This is a really neat idea since it might give NASA some much-needed good publicity. That, or it will let those in the midwest/southeast get one last good look at it i the sky before it's in museum.

Public interest affect? (1)

RCC42 (1457439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891772)

If geography allowed it and it made orbital sense to fly over a populated area during every landing, do you think the general population might be more aware and interested in space travel?

If I had an orbital vehicle streaking across the sky every month or so, I would certainly be very aware of the pace of space travel and keep it in my head for longer then I do now.

Re:Public interest affect? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891866)

I think I'd almost consider it a perk of being an American to see the shuttle cruising in overhead for a landing. "THIS is an example of your tax dollars doing rad things". It's a sight everyone should get to have. I've never seen the shuttle, but I live in Iowa, (central unfortunately, not southwest) so I don't think I am going to get to see it. But I'm going to depart for some research now to see if I have a shot.

Re:Public interest affect? (2, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891934)

Yep here it is, orbital calculator [nasa.gov] . Punch in your zip code and tell it to show you pass 222 of the shuttle. It will give a set of times. (in eastern standard time)

My set peaks at 10 deg above the horizon, so ya, probably not going to happen. Maybe if I went out in the country, but it'd be so far away, that's a shame. I'd like to say "maybe next time", but that's not likely... :(

You do. Things orbit above you all the time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31894530)

You can see satellites almost any clear night ANYWHERE on Earth.

GPS satellites are low and cover every point on Earth.
If you look towards the equator, then up, there are hundreds of geostationary satellites for TV, communications and other things about 22,000 miles up. As a reference, the diameter of the Earth is about 6500 miles (I didn't look it up).

The Space Shuttle orbits around 140-180 miles up so it is barely out of atmosphere - some would say it isn't out.

http://www.kowoma.de/en/gps/orbits.htm [kowoma.de] may be helpful. There's a bunch of stuff to see. With binoculars, you can see a ton of stuff.

Retrograde Descent? (1)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31891860)

Anyone have a clue why the shuttle would be making a retrograde descent?

Re:Retrograde Descent? (1)

cruff (171569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892090)

It isn't. Look up Orbital Node [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia for a description about what descending node means.

Re:Retrograde Descent? (1)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892140)

Because it's not.

Re:Retrograde Descent? (3, Informative)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892236)

It isn't. A retrograde landing at KSC would come in from the Atlantic Ocean.

An orbit requires two things, altitude and transverse velocity. There are no shortcuts for altitude, so we have to do it entirely the hard way, with rockets. On the other hand, everything on the surface of the earth (not counting the poles) has transverse velocity already, because the earth is turning. This gift of velocity is towards the east, and is related to the launch site's latitude, greater at the equator, less at the poles. This is one of the two reasons why we nearly always launch to the east. Anyone know the second reason?

When we launch to the east to take advantage of this gift, we call that a prograde orbit. Launching into a retrograde orbit requires burning fuel for 100% of the required transversal, plus enough to overcome the initial eastward velocity from the launch site.

A southward launch from California can be used for a polar orbit, but I don't think the shuttle has ever actually done it. I think the Air Force insisted that the shuttle be capable of this mission, which would be a single-orbit spy flight over the Soviet Union.

Re:Retrograde Descent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893360)

This gift of velocity is towards the east, and is related to the launch site's latitude, greater at the equator, less at the poles. This is one of the two reasons why we nearly always launch to the east. Anyone know the second reason?

Okay, I give up. What?

Re:Retrograde Descent? (1)

andrewscraig (319163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893664)

In the event that the shuttle explodes on take-off, the resulting debris will be in the Atlantic Ocean, and not in somebodies front garden.

viewable in MN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31892180)

will the first path be visible from southeast Minnesota? I'd hate to miss it :(

Forgot to mention a few (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31892474)

So basically over Sicamous BC, then Fort Mcleod AB, and just south of Lethbridge AB. May as well actually name a few places on the flight path, rather than just "Canada".

How Close? (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892506)

Can anyone say how close to the path one needs to be in order to see/hear anything?

Re:How Close? (1)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893248)

Being within 860 miles puts it 8 degrees above the horizon. This is where Seattle will catch it on the first possible attempt, but if it goes to the second attempt it will be much more overhead at a 50 degree angle.

Any larger maps (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31892612)

Any larger maps? Will it be visible from the Seattle area on the first pass?

Re:Any larger maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893258)

It looks like the first window: no.

If it takes the second orbit to land - yes. It will approach from the North East, pass the city to the East - then head South. It will approach at almost exactly 7am, and be the closest at about 65 miles from the city center, but 45 degrees above the horizon.

Provided there isn't cloud cover in the morning, reflecting the city lights - it should actually be possible to see this from downtown.

Hasn't it come over the US before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31892838)

I seem to remember in Feb2003 the shuttle came across the california coast and flew over Texas and Louisiana. Of course that time it didn't quite make it to Florida...

Re:Hasn't it come over the US before? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31893312)

That is the usual path. This one is special because it is coming from the Northwest, not the West.

MARE (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31893310)

BSD sty1le.' In the

Stunts for Funding ? (2, Funny)

PiSkyHi (1049584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31894440)

Pinned to its a tail, a sign reading "Please Donate! NASA"
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?