September 11, 2009: Shuttle Discovery Lands at Edwards

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Following a successful journey into space of more than 5.7 million miles, space shuttle “Discovery” and its crew of seven touched down on Runway 22L at  the Air Force Flight Test Center. The mission, designated STS-128, delivered two refrigerator-sized science racks to the International Space Station. One rack was for experiments on materials such as metals, glasses and ceramics, which would hopefully lead to development of better materials on Earth. The second rack was to be used for fluid physics research. Understanding how fluids react in microgravity could lead to improved designs for fuel tanks, water systems and other fluid-based systems. Weather had prevented the shuttle from landing at National Aeronautics Space Administration’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, their primary landing site.

Edwards Air Force Base in California was the site of the first Space Shuttle landing, and became a back-up site to the prime landing location, the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Several runways are arrayed on the dry lakebed at Rogers Dry Lake, and there are also concrete runways. Space shuttle landings on the lake bed took place on Runways 05/23, 15/33 and 17/35. Of the concrete strips, the main Runway 04/22 was utilized. During the renovation of 04/22, a temporary runway (with the same designation) was constructed parallel to it and used for one landing (STS-126).Five ALT free flights and 54 operational Space Shuttle missions landed on Edwards Air Force Base runways.

Runway Surface material Missions landed
Runway 05 Dry lakebed STS-44
Runway 23 Dry lakebed STS-1, 2, 51G, 51F, 51I, 51J, 34, 36
Runway 15 Dry lakebed ALT-14, STS-7
Runway 33 Dry lakebed STS-37
Runway 17 Dry lakebed ALT-12, 13, 15, STS-9, 41C, 41D, 51B, 61A, 26, 27, 28
Runway 35 Dry lakebed (none)
Runway 04 Concrete ALT-16, STS-33, 64
Runway 22 Concrete STS-4, 5, 6, 8, 61B, 61C, 29, 30, 32, 31, 41, 35, 40, 48, 42, 49, 53, 55, 58, 59, 68, 66, 67, 76, 92, 98, 100, 111, 114, 117, 125, 128
Runway 04 (Temporary) Asphalt STS-126


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