Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shuttle Scheduled For Final Landing And Double Sonic Booms

Double Sonic Booms To Be Heard In SW Florida

LABELLE. FL. -- Sky Watchers in Southwest Florida are getting ready for the last landing of the NASA Space Shuttle. Atlantis will be traveling south to north over much of the southwestern coast of Florida in a northeasterly path, flying over Naple, Lehigh Acres, LaBelle, Sebring, and finally landing at Kennedy Space Center, north of Melbourne and Titusville.

Along the final flight path of Atlantis, an early morning double sonic boom will be heard by those on the ground, as the shuttle flies faster than the speed of sound overhead, having entered the earth's atmosphere. This will most likely be the last sonic booms to be heard by anyone in populated areas for a great many years. 

As it's last payload mission, space shuttle Atlantis deployed a small, eight-pound, 5" X 5" X 10" technology demonstration satellite, called PicoSat, from a canister in the shuttle cargo bay. The satellite will relay data back to investigators on the performance of its own solar cells for analysis and possible use on future space hardware.

PicoSat was the 180th and final payload deployed in space shuttle history.

The Flight Dynamics Officer in Mission Control has slightly updated the times for Atlantis' two Thursday landing opportunities at Kennedy Space Center: 

Orbit 200 - Sonic booms to be heard starting in Naples, Fl.
Deorbit burn - 4:49:04 a.m. EDT
Landing - 5:56:58 a.m. EDT

If a second orbit is necessary to land:

Orbit 201 - Sonic booms to be heard in the Tampa area moving east over Orlando to Melbourne
Deorbit burn - 6:25:44 a.m. EDT
Landing - 7:32:55 a.m. EDT

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