On April 20th the shuttle Discovery landed in Florida. And being the partial geek that I am, I was once again intrigued with the numbers involved: speed, altitude, etc. This time they routed it to come in across the USA from Washington state down to Florida.
I hoped we would be able to see it but the partial cloudy situation in our western skies made it a bit tentative whether or not it would be visible. I followed the live coverage on Fox News.com. When it was over Georgia I went out to look. I saw several planes in different parts of the sky and 1 object in the western sky. It was faint to the naked eye but I’m pretty sure it was the shuttle. I was talking to someone for a few minutes and when I looked again it was gone.
At liftoff the shuttle, boosters and external tanks weigh 4.5 million pounds. Orbiting speed for the shuttle is 17,000 mph. Can you comprehend that? I can’t! The descent is 20 times steeper than a commercial flight.
These stats are the only ones I wrote down from this landing:
Altitude: 209 miles; minutes from landing: 34; speed: 16900 mph
Altitude: 53 miles; minutes from landing: 27
Miles to arrival: 2700; altitude: 46 miles; speed: 16000 mph
These stats are from a previous landing in Texas that I had written down during the live coverage. I’m assuming they’re pretty typical of shuttle landings.
14800 mph at 7:35 minutes from landing
11000 mph at 6:40
9000 mph at 5:95
7000 mph at 4:50
6000 mph at 4:15
5000 mph at 3:37
4300 mph at 3:04
3600 mph at 2:15
1800 mph at 1:12
365 mph at :30
In case you don’t like numbers think of it this way, in 7 minutes it went from travelling 14800 mph to 365. I wonder how the shuttle is designed to absorb that so those aboard don’t lose 3 months worth of lunch. There was a sonic boom as it’s speed decreased to below the speed of sound.
And the amazing thing is, the only way that man can do these things is because of the consistency of God’s laws. Gravity doesn’t change from day to day. There are many absolutes in science that enable them to be able to do mind-blowing feats such as this.
In The Beginning there was no sonic boom to blow the world into place. It was the design of a loving Creator.