back to article Atlantis home today, storms permitting

Space shuttle Atlantis will today return to terra firma at the end of its successful STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis has two "landing opportunities" at 14:00 GMT and 15:39 GMT, but weather conditions could prove "problematic " for a return to the Kennedy Space Center. NASA forecasts indicate "a broken …


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  1. Andus McCoatover

    Why not UK?

    Heathrow/Gatters/Stanstead? Many, many years ago before it's first operational flight I saw the Shuttle flying over Warwick apparently shagging a jumbo jet.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Why not UK?

    I'm not 100% sure, but I think the runways aren't long enough at all three. I recall reading something a while back commenting on the length of runway required.

    Plus the residents near heathrow are a right moany lot.

  3. Gavin Jamie


    Fairford is the UK landing strip on standby for this sort of thing. Basically huge runway and not much else doing makes it ideal.

    Would try to bunk of work to see that, probably hauling the kids out of school on the way!

  4. James

    Land at Doncaster

    Used to be the longest runway in Europe back when it was an RAF base, certainly long enough for the shuttle.

    Only thing, make sure to employ security or the shuttle might lose its wheels.

  5. Sartorius
    Paris Hilton


    Wouldn't complain about the noise the Shuttle makes when gliding to a landing over West London. Would love to see a Shuttle slip into the 90 second landing slot they give planes at Heathrow, or better yet watch & listen to the silence as they clear the skies.

    Lady P. as I'm sure she'd go down safely in W. London.

  6. Geeks and Lies

    Why not Iraq?

    tee hee :-)

    Mines the one with "Shuttles for Dummies" in the pocket!

  7. Thrice Nightly

    Lots of places, in an emergency

    The Shuttle can come down in loads of places if it has to. There are options all over the planet. (Google will reveal the full list.) I remember driving past an Australian Airforce base in the Northern Territory and noting the runway seemed to go on forever. A local later told me NASA had paid to have the runway extended way out into the outback to provide another emergency facility.

  8. Kenny Millar


    Noise? The orbiter (it's only a shutlle when it has the solid rocket engines and fuel tank attached) makes a totally unpowered decent (ie a GLIDE) back to earth.

  9. Christoph

    @ Andus McCoatover

    Enterprise landed at Stansted on the back of NASA 905, it couldn't land there itself. (I spent several hours in the queue to park there to see it.)

    They have various back-up landing places for emergencies, but won't use them unless forced because they will cost a lot more. They avoid even the Edwards landing if they can, as it means the extra cost of flying the shuttle back to Florida.

    At the backup sites there's no facilities for making safe the dangerous fuels in the shuttle, or for general handling after the landing. They would have to bring one of the carrier aircraft all the way over. They would have to find or bring or build a specialised crane to put the shuttle on top of the carrier. They would have to bring over and house all the people needed.

    It would cost a lot of money and a lot of time.

  10. Aaron

    @Kenny Millar

    Uh, that's kind of the point -- Heathrow gets lots of noise complaints, but the orbiter wouldn't generate any because it doesn't make any engine noise at all during landing. It was one of those 'joke' things, you know, that...ah, never mind.

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