Last Friday, Space Shuttle Atlantis successfully landed at Edward’s Air Force Base in California. It was a textbook landing. The Shuttle was originally scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center a day earlier (Thursday), but due to bad weather, the landing was postponed. Then on Friday, the Space Shuttle had several chances to land, two at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the other opportunities at Edward’s Air Force base in California. As the shuttle orbited the Earth, bad weather persisted at the Kennedy Center and the Shuttle was unable to land there. Eventually, the Shuttle landed on a picture perfect day at Edward’s Air Force Base.
During Friday, the weather at Edward’s Air Force Base was perfect: no clouds, calm winds, and open for a landing at any time. The conditions at the Base were perfect for landing, so why didn’t the shuttle land there in the first place? The answer to that question is money.
The home and launch site for all of the shuttles is at the Kennedy Space Center. Therefore, when shuttles land at Edward’s Air Force Base in California, they eventually have to go back to the Space Center in Florida. At the Space Center, they are continually inspected, tested, refurbished, and are stored.
This ride back home does not come cheap. At $1.7 million, the shuttle has to be taken atop a modified jumbo jet, and flown back. Workers have to be paid, fuel has to be bought, and the major problem is time. Everything has to be organized and prepared. So much effort has to be put in to send the shuttle back to Florida – $1.7 million dollars worth of effort.
If the shuttle lands in Florida, then both time and money is saved. If the shuttle lands in Florida, then NASA will save $1.7 million dollars and can spend that saved money on things such as research, shuttle repairs, labor costs, and mission expenses. The cost to launch a Space Shuttle comes at the huge price of $450 million dollars per mission and NASA wants to save every penny to put ahead for future costs.
The Kennedy Space Center is where the shuttles are stored, processed, and launched. It is always best that they land there. As the old saying goes, there is no place like home.
Monday, June 25, 2007