Vanishing Shuttle

Mon, 21 Jul 1997 07:16:27 -0500

The Shuttle  'tail to earth' attitude is a rare one. It is not a primary
attitude due to a number of factors.  I have only seen it on a single
occasion and that was about 2 years after the start of the shuttle
program. I estimated the magnitude as  +4 and that was at full phase
angle early in the morning. Therefore, if you were to see it in this
orientation, a 'vanishing shuttle' might be the result. At that time it
was not visible at all during the pass because that attitude was being
maintained.    However, the best way to tell that the actual attitude is
to watch the NASA channel when the DMOS plot is running. This is a
pictorial graphic that shows the shuttle attitude relative to the earth.
It is not always displayed, but here at JSC we are able to see it on a
separate TV channel that is sometimes switched to the NASA channel.


Paul D. Maley
DO5/Cargo Operations
NASA Johnson Space Center
Houston TX 77058 USA
phone: 281-244-0208
fax: 281-244-7622
latitude 29.5378 north; longitude 95.0868 west; altitude 6 m