Author Topic: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida  (Read 3369 times)

Offline DecoLV

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The scenario is that while the Shuttle is some 10 minutes away from touchdown at KSC SLF, the runway becomes suddenly incapacitated (for whatever reason---SLA accident, construction crane falling over, giant elephant bocks the runway). First, does the shuttle have enough physical capability to suddenly change its flight path to go elsewhere (since it is about to go around the HAC, I'm guessing yes... at least somewhat). Second, what destination?: Skid Strip?, Patrick?, even...Orlando MCO??

And what CDR could pull it off?


Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/2023 04:36 am »
The scenario is that while the Shuttle is some 10 minutes away from touchdown at KSC SLF, the runway becomes suddenly incapacitated (for whatever reason---SLA accident, construction crane falling over, giant elephant bocks the runway). First, does the shuttle have enough physical capability to suddenly change its flight path to go elsewhere (since it is about to go around the HAC, I'm guessing yes... at least somewhat). Second, what destination?: Skid Strip?, Patrick?, even...Orlando MCO??

And what CDR could pull it off?
Orlando International (MCO) could be used as an emergency landing site.  Here's an article from 1991 discussing it:  https://www.orlandosentinel.com/1991/08/04/trouble-could-land-shuttle-in-orlando/

Possible reasons would include arriving in Florida with insufficient energy to reach KSC, or a weather plane (STA) crashing on the SLF runway.

Offline DecoLV

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/2023 02:24 pm »
Orlando International (MCO) could be used as an emergency landing site.  Here's an article from 1991 discussing it:  https://www.orlandosentinel.com/1991/08/04/trouble-could-land-shuttle-in-orlando/

Possible reasons would include arriving in Florida with insufficient energy to reach KSC, or a weather plane (STA) crashing on the SLF runway.

There you go. No contingency overlooked! Amazing that in 30 years not a single TAL or domestic alternate landing site was ever needed. I wonder if people in Spain or elsewhere who took training were disaappointed.

Offline eric z

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #3 on: 09/30/2023 02:48 pm »
 One of my favorite parts of watching each mission was the weather analysis for launch and the abort sites. :)

Online laszlo

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #4 on: 09/30/2023 02:56 pm »
...I wonder if people in Spain or elsewhere who took training were disaappointed.

Yes. I know one member of the recovery team who spent 6 weeks at the contingency site (lift-off kept getting delayed), used up all the tourist opportunities, learned a whole bunch of new songs on his guitar and then the Shuttle took off and landed normally in Florida. They then had to pack everything up and go home. He got home a week after the Shuttle did.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2023 01:30 pm by laszlo »

Offline Jim

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #5 on: 10/02/2023 01:22 am »
The scenario is that while the Shuttle is some 10 minutes away from touchdown at KSC SLF, the runway becomes suddenly incapacitated (for whatever reason---SLA accident, construction crane falling over, giant elephant bocks the runway). First, does the shuttle have enough physical capability to suddenly change its flight path to go elsewhere (since it is about to go around the HAC, I'm guessing yes... at least somewhat). Second, what destination?: Skid Strip?, Patrick?, even...Orlando MCO??

And what CDR could pull it off?



no

Online laszlo

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #6 on: 10/02/2023 03:15 pm »
The scenario is that while the Shuttle is some 10 minutes away from touchdown at KSC SLF, the runway becomes suddenly incapacitated (for whatever reason---SLA accident, construction crane falling over, giant elephant bocks the runway). First, does the shuttle have enough physical capability to suddenly change its flight path to go elsewhere (since it is about to go around the HAC, I'm guessing yes... at least somewhat). Second, what destination?: Skid Strip?, Patrick?, even...Orlando MCO??

And what CDR could pull it off?



no

In case "no" leaves you feeling unsatisfied.

Offline ccdengr

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #7 on: 10/02/2023 03:48 pm »
Thanks for the documents.  With 10 minutes' warning I'm not seeing what would make it physically impossible to land on the skid strip.

Online laszlo

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #8 on: 10/02/2023 04:39 pm »
Thanks for the documents.  With 10 minutes' warning I'm not seeing what would make it physically impossible to land on the skid strip.

5,000 feet shorter than SLS, surface is asphalt instead of high friction concrete, missing navaids (TACAN and MSBLS), among others.

Online laszlo

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #9 on: 10/02/2023 04:46 pm »
Thanks for the documents.  With 10 minutes' warning I'm not seeing what would make it physically impossible to land on the skid strip.

The HAC would also have to be displaced some 12 miles SE.

Offline ccdengr

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #10 on: 10/02/2023 04:57 pm »
5,000 feet shorter than SLS, surface is asphalt instead of high friction concrete, missing navaids (TACAN and MSBLS), among others.
Those might be just difficulties, not physical impossibilities.  I seem to recall that one shuttle mission landed at Edwards on an asphalt runway shorter than the skid strip (STS-126?).  If it came up, would you try to land or just ditch in the ocean?

A pretty unlikely scenario, I'll admit.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2023 05:06 pm by ccdengr »

Offline Orbiter

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #11 on: 10/02/2023 05:09 pm »
The scenario is that while the Shuttle is some 10 minutes away from touchdown at KSC SLF, the runway becomes suddenly incapacitated (for whatever reason---SLA accident, construction crane falling over, giant elephant bocks the runway). First, does the shuttle have enough physical capability to suddenly change its flight path to go elsewhere (since it is about to go around the HAC, I'm guessing yes... at least somewhat). Second, what destination?: Skid Strip?, Patrick?, even...Orlando MCO??

And what CDR could pull it off?
Orlando International (MCO) could be used as an emergency landing site.  Here's an article from 1991 discussing it:  https://www.orlandosentinel.com/1991/08/04/trouble-could-land-shuttle-in-orlando/

Possible reasons would include arriving in Florida with insufficient energy to reach KSC, or a weather plane (STA) crashing on the SLF runway.

I've always wondered how the coordination effort between NASA and ATC would look to accomplish an emergency, last second MCO landing.
« Last Edit: 10/02/2023 05:10 pm by Orbiter »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #12 on: 10/02/2023 06:01 pm »

Possible reasons would include arriving in Florida with insufficient energy to reach KSC,

That is the reason for the HAC.  Go straight in if low on energy

Online laszlo

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #13 on: 10/02/2023 06:06 pm »
5,000 feet shorter than SLS, surface is asphalt instead of high friction concrete, missing navaids (TACAN and MSBLS), among others.
Those might be just difficulties, not physical impossibilities.  I seem to recall that one shuttle mission landed at Edwards on an asphalt runway shorter than the skid strip (STS-126?).  If it came up, would you try to land or just ditch in the ocean?

A pretty unlikely scenario, I'll admit.

That was runway 5L/23R which is 12,000 feet long, 2,000 feet longer than the Skid Strip. It also had 1,000 foot over/under runs at each end. These were unpaved but had loadbearing capacity that would support the Shuttle.

Online laszlo

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #14 on: 10/02/2023 06:37 pm »

Possible reasons would include arriving in Florida with insufficient energy to reach KSC,

That is the reason for the HAC.  Go straight in if low on energy

The straight-in approach let them skip the trip around the HAC if energy was low. The overhead approach was for dumping excess energy. The s-turn at Entry TAEM Interface could also be skipped in case of low energy. Finally, a combination of these tactics was known as the Optional TAEM Targeting (OTT)  and included replacing the Heading Alignment Circle with the Heading Alignment Cone (but the acronym stayed HAC) and making the HAC radius dynamically adjustable while the turn was in progress. It also allowed HAC turns greater than 360 and had an energy dump phase on approach to the HAC. This accommodated all the combinations of high and low energy when arriving at the HAC.

An important reason for the OTT was to allow the Shuttle the option of flying over or under a pop-up thunderstorm. In the low energy case the Shuttle would fly under the storm possibly skipping the s-turn, getting on the HAC and going directly to the runway. In the high energy case they could fly over the storm and dump energy with a prolonged trip around the HAC, constantly adjusting the turn radius to reach the desired energy.

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #15 on: 10/23/2023 10:08 am »

Offline hoku

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #16 on: 10/23/2023 02:16 pm »
... [youtube]
Reminds me of the story hinted at by Marianne J. Dyson in "A Passion for Space...". Near the end of the STS-2's (shortened) on-orbit mission, Truly apparently took some medicine causing (as a side-effect) pupil dilation. He consequently had trouble with focusing his eyes on the instruments and displays. Luckily Engle (manually flying for most of the re-entry speed range) still found his way to Runway 23 at Edwards...
« Last Edit: 10/23/2023 02:20 pm by hoku »

Offline LittleBird

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Re: Shuttle last minute contingency landings in Florida
« Reply #17 on: 10/23/2023 02:53 pm »
... [youtube]
Reminds me of the story hinted at by Marianne J. Dyson in "A Passion for Space...". Near the end of the STS-2's (shortened) on-orbit mission, Truly apparently took some medicine causing (as a side-effect) pupil dilation. He consequently had trouble with focusing his eyes on the instruments and displays. Luckily Engle (manually flying for most of the re-entry speed range) still found his way to Runway 23 at Edwards...

Somewhere in my scrapbooks is a picture of John Young wearing his specs on STS-1. As someone who has worn glasses since age 6 or so I found this rather cheering ;-)
« Last Edit: 10/24/2023 08:29 am by LittleBird »

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