STS-77 Reentry

Lynn + Steve Walter / LAST Acre (walterlc@huntel.com)
Wed, 29 May 1996 11:39:00 -0600

Despite working to around midnight last night, I was able to drag Lynn and
myself out of bed at 430 this morning to climb up on the roof and hunt for
the shuttle flyby on its landing re-entry.  Unfortunately, it wasn't until
we clambered up there and tripped and stumbled over various obstacles that
Lynn asked when I'd had the time to check the news or something to make
sure the landing was actually on schedule (I hadn't ...).

The bottom of the Big Dipper was hanging off the horizon to the north, and
we centered our attention in that vicinity; the flight path picture I'd
seen last night indicated the shuttle's closest approach would be around
the New Mexico/Colorado border -- 300 miles or so to our north (!!!); WWW
mail I'd found indicated the shuttle would only be about 4-degrees above
the horizon, so the bottom of the Big Dipper seemed a close guess.

We shortly spotted a moving light coming from the North/NorthWest (from
behind some trees at the end of our development), moving to the North/North
East ... I made a wild guess "there it is" and Lynn quickly responded with
a "are you sure?" ... but, I was right!

We had some distant porch lights interferring with our view, but I could
soon see a faint trail behind the shuttle ... the view improved
considerably as the shuttle clipped the bottom of the Big Dipper and kept
on moving ... its ionization trail getting more and more visible and
spectacular!  In the meantime, the shuttle had quickly changed from a
white, satellite-looking thing into an object with a distinct red/orange
color.  Truly an interesting site to see!

Even more impressive was the shuttle and trail were STILL visible as it
moved into the pre-dawn sky.  The trail behind the shuttle was at least
40-degrees long, and lasted a minute or so past the shuttle's passing.
Lynn still has a hard time believing this thing we saw reached the East
Coast a mere 10-15 minutes later (and landed)!

Steve






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|              Steve + Lynn Walter
|                 The LAST Acre
|           190 Horseshoe Circle East
|       Las Cruces, New Mexico  88005-5572
|
|       [~ 107 deg 03 min West  Longitude
|        x +32 deg 23 min North  Latitude]
|
| [Email Addresses]  walterlc@huntel.com
|                or  swalter@tdrss.wsc.nasa.gov
|                or  pwalter@nmsu.edu
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