Atlantis orbital adjustment

From: Sean Sullivan (
Date: Thu Jun 21 2007 - 18:54:10 EDT

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    This is just some casual speculation building on what I read in Bill 
    Harwood's article, and I haven't looked at the elements or thought this 
    through carefully.  But since there were a lot of messages about how this 
    adjustment might affect the position of the shuttle, I thought I'd try 
    giving an intuitive explanation.
    It sounds like NASA wants to create a landing opportunity at Edwards one 
    orbit before Atlantis would have (on its original orbit) had a shot there. 
    On this orbit, therefore, the Atlantis groundtrack would have been too far 
    east, and NASA wants to nudge the groundtrack west.  Since the earth is 
    turning west-to-east under the orbit, this is accomplished by giving the 
    earth more time to rotate before the shuttle crosses a given latitude. 
    To do this, the shuttle needs to run late relative to its original timing. 
    Thus, the orbital period needs to be increased, and that's done by raising 
    the orbit.  So I would expect to see Atlantis fall behind relative to its 
    original trajectory.
    Also, here's a wide-angle photo of Atlantis and ISS last night from 
    Boston, in a 10-second exposure:
    Sean Sullivan
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