STS-93 Reentry observed from NASA Johnson Space Center

Wed, 28 Jul 1999 11:15:34 -0500

This is the 9th or 10th such shuttle reentry that I have observed since 1984
but though it passed far north of us, many employees at the Johnson Space
Center found the same pasture road I was on at the time and it looked like a
night time caravan of vehicles going out to the antenna test range where
amateur rocket competitions are held. Cars with bright headlights appeared
all the way up to within one minute of horizon break. Many were first time
viewers. The night was clear and [on July 28, 1999] at 0304UT we observed
the entry portion for nearly 6 minutes as the  yellow orange orbiter moving
at 12 times the speed of sound was followed by the chemiluminescent trail.
The trail is always different in appearance. From here its residual glow
lasted for less than two minutes. This time the train was  mainly straight
with two minor, but noticeabale,  kinks followed by two short breaks in the
trail. There was no sign of the pulsing RCS jet firings that we usually see.
The sonic boom should have been heard 10 minutes 20 seconds after close
approach but due to ambient noise and the range, it was impossible to hear

This was a welcome successful observation as opposed to the recent
Globalstar evasive and depletion burn attempts which were clouded out a few
days ago. 

Paul D. Maley

tel. 281-244-0208; fax: 281-244-1140
latitude 29.6049 north, longitude 95.1086 west, elev 6m