Space Shuttle and Satellite Launches and Landings
“To achieve orbit, the rockets eventually reach speeds of nearly 25,000
miles per hour – almost 7 miles a second….”
Several times a year, Central Florida becomes the focal point of the nation as a Space Shuttle is launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Visible from all over Central Florida, the launches are spectacular and can generally be viewed right from most homes. Even the release of the solid rocket boosters can be easily seen in clear weather.
In addition to the Shuttle launches, satellites are launched from The Cape more frequently. Though they receive less notoriety and are not as visible, satellite launches provide more opportunities to view a launch.
To achieve orbit, the rockets eventually reach speeds of nearly 25,000 miles per hour – almost 7 miles per second - and altitudes from 120 miles (Shuttles) to more than 22,000 miles (weather satellites).
Equally as impressive as a launch is the landing of the Space Shuttle returning to earth. Beginning its re-entry over the Indian Ocean, the Shuttle has no fuel for engine use on re-entry and is simply on an impressive and tenuous one-way glide path stretching half-way around the world. Weather permitting, the Shuttle lands only several miles from its original launch pad and its most notable sonic boom can be heard throughout the area as it reaches subsonic speeds while closing in on Central Florida.
Many people head for a closer view of the launch and there a numerous prime locations out near the coast.
The Shuttle and satellite launches and Shuttle landings are announced in advance to maximize the chance of watching NASA “do its thing”.