Anybody interested in following the reentry of the space shuttle live can go to http://www.nasa.gov/ and click on “Watch NASA TV” on the bottom right. This has a feed from mission control in Houston. Interesting stuff.
I watched it live here in Florida on NASA TV. That is the best website - we watched it until it was on CNN, switched to the tv, then back to the computer for post flight procedures. We really wanted to hear the 2 sonic booms from supersonic down to subsonic but didn’t hear it.
Have a nice day!
Yes, I did not realize until I started watching the reentries on NASA TV a few missions ago that the shuttle is not really a glider at all. That thing drops like a rock! It’s amazing listening to the altitude of the shuttle and how far out from it’s destination it is.
It’s actually quite a good glider, once it’s low enough to encounter any air.
I would say it is pretty good glider considering the stubby delta wing it has, since the delta wing design isn’t exactly the best wing for gliding. Of course, it also comes in much faster than most planes.
Maybe that’s it. I guess I was comparing it to the traditional glider. I think I recall it being over New Orleans at around 125,000’ going to Kennedy. I do remember being completely astounded as to how high the thing was so close to landing. 1.5 minutes prior to landing it is at 10,000’! My reference to dropping like a rock refers to the following quote found here:
As it aligns with the runway, the orbiter begins a steep descent with the nose angled as much as 19 degrees down from horizontal. This glide slope is seven times steeper than the average commercial airliner landing. During the final approach, the vehicle drops toward the runway 20 times faster than a commercial airliner as its rate of descent and airspeed increase.
30 minutes prior to landing it is at an altitude of 80 miles (422,400’). That’s just pretty intense to me considering an airliner takes roughly the same amount of time to descend from 33,000’. Here’s another good site detailing the reentry of the shuttle.
I never thought of the shuttle as that good of a glider- They train landings in a Gulfstream II with INFLIGHT REVERSE THRUST and a modified wing to reduce lift to simulate flight properties (an interesting oral history with a designer is Here special attention around page 17 for the selection of the training vehicle for landing).
The shuttle does have in its favor decent starting altitude and initial kinetic energy.
(Edit to replace Gulfstream II for JetStar, I misread. I began my reasearch with the memory that they used a 707 w/ reverse thrust, but that memory seems to be faulty (as is my reading comprehension , apparently).
(Photo of the Gulfstream HERE ('bout half way down)).
Granted, it’s a brick. But it has a lot going for it besides the delta wing, particularly its lifting body design.
My late friend Steve Snyder, developer of the ParaPlane, developed the parafoil wing for the X-38 lifting body aircraft for NASA.
And, as you mentioned, given enough altitude and impetus, anything can be made to fly, however briefly.