Hear Space Shuttle Discovery's
Twin Sonic Booms from Our Back Yard
When my wife woke me today on her way to work, she told me that the Space Shuttle Discovery was landing at Edwards Air Force Base today.
Due to unfavorable landing conditions at both the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility (the Shuttle's primary landing facility) in Florida and Edwards Air Force Base, California (the alternate landing facility), NASA flight controllers in Houston delayed the landing of STS-92 from its originally scheduled October 23 landing by one day. Weather conditions did not improve at KSC by the next day, and the 100th Space Shuttle mission took its first of two landing opportunities at EAFB on it's 202nd orbit, landing at 1:59pm PT. This was the first time in over four years that the Shuttle has been forced to use the alternate West Coast landing facility.
The twin sonic booms (one from the nose, one from the tail 37 meters aft) arrived at our backyard at 1:54:32pm PT. Discovery passed within an estimated 23 miles from our home on it northeasterly approach somewhat north of us (see map above). Sound traveling at around 760mph would take about one minute and fifty seconds to travel that 23 miles. So Discovery passed at its closest point to our home sometime after 1:52pm PT. If it reached EAFB on schedule at exactly1:59pm, then the average speed for the remainder of the flight to touchdown (at around 220mph) was over 500mph.
This was the 28th mission for Space Shuttle Discovery/OV-103. It was also the first shuttle mission to have a female pilot, Pamela A. Melroy. The main payload for STS-92 was the Zenith (Z-1) Truss, a major structural component of the International Space Station.
Discovery will eventually be returned to Kennedy Space Center piggy-backed aboard NASA's modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA).
Read more about STS-92 here:
You can view NASA's excellent photographs from the mission: http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-92/images/images.html
See streaming video of all phases of STS-92: http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-92/movies/movies.html