International Airport (formerly Yundum Airport) was
the primary TAL site for 28.5 degree (low) inclination launches
because of its in-plane location. It was selected in September
1987, replacing a TAL site at Dakar, Senegal, that NASA concluded
was unsatisfactory due to runway deficiencies and geographic
hazards. Banjul was closed in November 2002.
The Republic of The Gambia is a
former British colony that gained independence in February 1965.
The Gambia, the oldest English-speaking country in West Africa,
is surrounded on all sides except its seaboard by Senegal. It
reaches 300 miles inland, but is never wider then 15 miles on
either side of the Gambia River. Ocean-going vessels can navigate
as far us as Kuntaur, 150 miles inland. The international airport,
located adjacent to the country's capital, Banjul, is located
on a flat plain seven miles inland from the Atlantic and six
miles south of the Gambia River. The Gambia has a dry season
that extends from November to May, during which weather conditions
are generally good, the only difficulty being lowered runway
visibility due to airborne dust.
NASA completed four phases
of construction projects at Banjul international Airport (BIA).
These include improvements to the runway, adding of shuttle-unique
visual landing aids and a Microwave Landing System (MLS), a
Tactical Air Control and Navigation (TACAN) system and a Shuttle
Orbiter Arresting System (SOAS) or barrier net located in the
overrun of the runway.
Also included were a remote weather
tower, operations and storage buildings, an orbiter de-service
and turn-around pad, and utility and personnel transport vehicles.
The airport lies almost directly below the 28.5-degree flight
path, hence its designation as an in-plane contingency landing
After extending the existing overruns
to 1,000 feet, the site was declared a full-up TAL site in April
1990. The runway is 11,811 feet long by 150 feet wide with 25-foot
Communications included three INMARSAT
satellite circuits and Gambian commercial telephone lines. Internet
capability was available through GAMTEL, the local telephone
company. Other communications options were available through
the American Embassy located nearby.