||Orbiter Discovery lowers
its nose wheel after touching down on runway 33 at the
Shuttle Landing Facility, successfully completing mission
STS-95, which lasted nearly nine days and 3.6 million
As the processing and launch site of the
Space Shuttle, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida is also the
preferred end-of-mission landing site for the Shuttle orbiter. Edwards Air
Force Base (EAFB) in California is the prime alternate site.
Landing the orbiter at KSC’s Shuttle
Landing Facility (SLF) instead of at EAFB saves at least an estimated
three-quarter million dollars and about five days of processing time for
its next mission. A KSC landing also eliminates the necessity of exposing
the orbiter, a national resource, to the uncertainties and potential
dangers of a cross-country ferry trip atop one of NASA’s two modified
Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
With its diverse choice of concrete and
spacious dry lake bed runways, EAFB offers a reliable alternate landing
site to Florida because of its more stable and predictable weather
conditions. Unlike launches for which a "go" for liftoff can be
given within minutes of changing weather conditions during the launch
window, the landing site must be chosen more than an hour before
touchdown, when the deorbit burn takes place. A switch in sites usually
can be made up to 90 minutes prior to landing.