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Orbiter: Columbia
Shuttle Mission: STS-107
Date: February 1, 2003

Did you know?

Image: Montage of Vehicle Assembly Building with American Flag and shuttles landing.For 12 consecutive missions, Orbiter Columbia has landed at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), without being diverted to an alternate landing site.

The last time Columbia landed at an alternate landing site was Nov. 1, 1993, when mission STS-58 concluded with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in Calif.

Image:  Shuttle landing at KSC.

STS-107 photos and videos are online. (Note: This is a graphic-intensive site and may be difficult to view with low speed modems or when this web site receives heavy traffic loads).

About the Shuttle Landing Facility

At 15,000 ft long and 300 ft wide, the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center is larger than most commercial runways. For comparison, consider this: the longest runway at Los Angeles International Airport is 12,091 ft long and 150 ft wide, 2,909 ft shorter and 150 ft narrower than the SLF. Although it is used by military and civilian cargo carriers, astronauts' T-38 trainers, Shuttle Training Aircraft, and helicopters, it was designed specifically for end-of-mission Shuttle orbiter landings.

The SLF consists of a single landing strip that is considered two runways, depending on approach. If approaching from the northwest, landing will be on Runway 15; from the southeast, landing will be on Runway 33.

With more than 330 native and migratory bird species at KSC, birds present a special hazard to landing orbiters. Selective grass cutting, pyrotechnic and noise-making devices may be used to discourage birds around the SLF.

When the Space Shuttle clears the launch tower moments after liftoff, control is officially handed from KSC to Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. JSC maintains control of on-orbit activities and landing operations. Orbiter responsibility is handed from JSC back to KSC after vehicle cool-down and crew departure, typically about an hour after touchdown. Immediately following landing, 20-30 specially-designed KSC vehicles or units report to the runway. Their activities include safing the orbiter, assisting in crew departure and towing the vehicle to processing facilities.

Learn more about landing the Space Shuttle orbiter at KSC

Page Last Revised Page & Curator Information
February 3, 2003 Online coverage by: Dennis Armstrong (NASA), Anna Heiney (IDI), Jeanne Ryba (NASA)
Web Development: JBOSC Web Development Team
Video Production: Chris Chamberland (Photobition)
NASA Official: Dennis Armstrong (
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Roy D. Bridges, Director
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