Skip to comments.Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) Possible Shuttle Pit Stop
Posted on 07/05/2006 7:42:09 PM PDT by NorthOf45
Halifax possible shuttle pit stop
Airport on crews list of emergency landing sites
The Chronicle Herald
By Chris Lambie
July 5, 2006
Halifax International Airport is one of a handful of sites along the eastern seaboard where the space shuttle Discovery could have landed Tuesday if something had gone awry shortly after takeoff.
And the same airport could be used during this 12-day space mission if the shuttle has to land in a hurry, according to Steve MacLean, the next Canadian astronaut scheduled to fly on board the shuttle Atlantis in August. Gander and Stephenville, N.L., are also on the National Aeronautics and Space Administrations list of potential emergency runways.
"About five minutes into the flight or so, you might have to come into Halifax," Mr. Mac-Lean said Tuesday.
Astronauts use a simulator to practise landing the shuttle in Halifax.
"Its great because my whole crew knows were going to get treated well because Im Canadian," he said.
"We have fun with that. And the beer is better in Canada, you know how it is."
All joking aside, its nice to know the runways are there, Mr. MacLean said.
"If you do land in Canada and everything is well, thats a good day."
The shuttle touches down at about 350 kilometres an hour. That means it would have to slow down from a speed of about 25,000 kilometres an hour before landing.
"We have a series of S-turns that we execute that soak up a lot of energy," Mr. MacLean said. "Plus, we have that huge speed brake at the back."
In the event of a landing here, Nova Scotians would be able to see the shuttle with the naked eye, he said.
"Theyd hear it, too. Youd get several sonic booms."
When the shuttle lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, there are two minutes when it cant separate from the external solid fuel tank.
"If something goes wrong in the first two minutes, were out of luck," Mr. MacLean said.
After that, if the shuttle were to experience a problem such as an engine failure, there is a short window of time when it could abort and return to Kennedy.
For a few minutes after that, eight airfields from South Carolina to Atlantic Canada then become the spots where the shuttle might have to make what NASA terms an East Coast abort landing. There is also a runway in Saragossa, Spain, where the shuttle can land.
"There is more risk than landing it at the end of the mission because youre a heavyweight," Mr. MacLean said.
"And the runways themselves arent as good as the runways at White Sands (Missile Range in New Mexico) or Kennedy or at Edwards (Air Force Base in California)."
If the shuttle landed in Halifax, it would tie up the airport for about 24 hours, "unless there was some incident on the runway," Mr. MacLean said. "Then its different."
The odds of a shuttle landing in Nova Scotia arent as astronomical as you might think.
"I think its one in a hundred," said Mr. MacLean, adding none of the East Coast abort sites have ever been used.
During the shuttle launch, Halifax International is in constant contact with Transport Canada and NASA.
"If anything occurs during that time period and Halifax is designated, Nav Canada has to clear the airspace, we have to clear the runways and well see what happens," said Peter Clarke, the airports vice-president of operations.
Nobody has figured out who would cover the cost of closing down the airport in the event of an emergency shuttle landing.
"I dont think its come up at this point," Mr. Clarke said. "Were designated by Transport Canada; its a treaty arrangement between the two governments."
I have been to Halifax.
Halifax is quite well known for Schools for the Blind. The explosion and all of that.
I might as well have been blind when I was there. The fog never lifted during my Summer vacation.
I cannot imagine that area as a landing site.
The shuttles time is way past. Time for new technology.
OK! I guess the next new technology is:
"BEAM ME UP SCOTTY!"
And when is your estimate when this happens?
Wasn't it Nova Scotia that was so gracious and hospitable in housing so many people when all the planes were grounded on Sept. 11? Wonderful story, wonderful people.
I don't know. I do know that the shuttle is a system that's made more dangerous by the management at NASA. I know dozens of people that work at JSC and they all say the system is dangerous as hell because the suits are running the show when the engineers should be.
Maybe we should take a billion or so and give it to Dick Rutan and see what he can do?
There are two runways in Spain where the Shuttle can land. The old AF base at Zaragoza (not Saragossa) and the Spanish AF base at Moron.
Nova Scotia seems way too far north for a shuttle landing site during an aborted takeoff. The primary reasons for launching space missions from Florida -- despite the high probability of heavy rainstorms and threats of strong tropical storms for much of the year -- is: 1) Florida's proximity to the equator relative to other U.S. states (since most space missions involve equatorial), and 2) the fact that a space vehicle launched from Florida is well out over the Atlantic Ocean very soon after it leaves the ground (in case something goes wrong and a rocket or shuttle crashes after takeoff).
Shuttle launches to the Space Station travel up the east coast, as required to join the Station's 57 degree orbit.
Night launches can be seen as far up as Long Island. They are like a fast moving star running along the horizon. At 8 1/2 minutes you can see the light go out when the engines cut off.
There were multiple locations across Canada that provided assistance to the planes that were forced down. The east coast, especially Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, received the lions share I believe. Gander Newfoundland, population of 9,600, took care of 38 planes (6,500 travellers).
That's interesting -- thanks for posting that info. I never knew the space station orbits the earth that far north.
Also, note that the shuttle launches from a vertical position, but lands on a horizontal trajectory. It will travel great distances when coming in for a landing.
Right. It also orbits upside-down, relative to the surface of the earth.
The airport is well inland from the harbor. I was in N.S. in '65, and in '01. '65 was by the Blue Nose out of Bar Harbor. 'o2 was into Halifiax airport.
In '65 the kinfolk still iived on dirt roads, had outhouses and made butter in the butter churn - the milk was fresh from the cow. The kitchen stove heated the house. The kids spoke English but the old folks spoke Gaelic. No joke. In '02, they had paved roads, and indoor plumbing, and Gaelic was just a novelty a few old timers trotted out on special occasions.
There's a shuttle emergency landing site in downtown Mobile, Alabama too.
Here's a link to the Halifax Int'l Airport site with the story of 9-11 as it unfolded.
Nova Scotia is a beautiful place. My wife and I visited her cousin & husband in 2002 in Halifax.
He is actually a Conservative newspaper editor/columnist for the Chronicle Herald.
We saw Hi Definition replay of the shuttle launch this afternoon. It was just gorgeous!! I didn't know that they had affixed a camera to the large external fuel tank, and it was still going when the shuttle separated from it WAY up over the earth. What an awesome shot.
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