SciTechBlog   « Back to Blog Main
February 7, 2008

Miles from Earth: Shuttle Like a Football

Posted: 02:09 PM ET

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – Less than an hour to go and the weather is better than initially predicted here. The cloud cover is within limits – so are the winds – and there aren’t any rain clouds inside 20 miles from launch pad 39A.


If only they could launch now, they would be on their way. Problem is – the shuttle does not have enough gas to make it to the space station unless it leaves the pad when the station is overhead.

It is kind of like a quarterback throwing a pass to his receiver. If he doesn’t toss the football at just the right moment – the pass will be incomplete – or intercepted.

Think of the shuttle as the football, the station is the receiver, and the launch control team as the quarterback.

It all boils down to only about ten minutes each day when a shuttle can launch to the station. Today the middle of that window is 2:45 pm ET. The only weather that matters is what is happening in that narrow slice of time.

But so far so good – and so much for the better.

From Miles O’Brien, CNN’s chief technology and environment correspondent

Filed under: NASA • Uncategorized

Share this on:
Rick S.   February 7th, 2008 2:14 pm ET

Nice football analogy. Go Atlantis!

tom   February 7th, 2008 2:16 pm ET

Will be broadcasting the launch live? Starting at what time? Thank you.

Ron & Joy Kellen   February 7th, 2008 2:24 pm ET

Please have this shuttle delayed until Mon., Feb. 11th, so we can be present at the launch.
Ron & Joy Kellen
Yorkton, Saskatchewan

rick   February 7th, 2008 2:44 pm ET

I'm always impressed with the launch. How much does the ground shake at lift off and what speed is at lift off. I've heard it's as fast as a bullet out of a rifle barrel.

Very interested in your reply.

rick   February 7th, 2008 2:47 pm ET

I'm watching the velocity. what is 2500 + equal to?

Ernest   February 7th, 2008 2:50 pm ET

im watching it live on

Jeremy Hooper   February 7th, 2008 3:02 pm ET


I hope NASA finally lets you make your trip, you certainly deserve it! I'd like to join you.


Mike   February 7th, 2008 3:32 pm ET

Sorry about the joke but, you do realize that the Transporter Chief from Star Trek: The Next Generation was named Miles O'Brien. I just find that ironic.

Gary   February 7th, 2008 3:45 pm ET

I've been to one shuttle launch at the cape myself (I think it was Discovery), and seen several nighttime launches since my family lives in Florida.

Despite what people say that the shuttle is an antiquated and unnecessary waste of our tax dollars, I am always in awe of the launches/landings and the majesty a shuttle in orbit commands.

Boy I will miss these flights when they retire.

Jason Rhian   February 8th, 2008 4:52 am ET

Regarding the post about missing the flights when they retire,

When they do retire, if all goes well, the new vehicle will return us to the moon and then on to Mars. The shuttles are fascinating, butto be actually exploring themoon, Mars and is worth the loss of the shuttle.

jake haap   February 8th, 2008 5:24 am ET

Yes..the Shuttle launch Is impressive but............I witnessed an Apollo launch in 1970 on a Saturn 5...Believe me a Saturn 5 launch puts the Shuttle to shame.I was 3.5 miles away at the VIP site and the thunderous vibrations of the Saturn almost knocked me over !!..That my friend,is a launch!!!! The new Ares 5 cargo vehicle will be as impressive..We'll just have to wait.......................

Ben   February 8th, 2008 2:17 pm ET

It is not the ISS itself that is overhead, but the orbital plane of the ISS. The location of the ISS around the earth is irrelevant. Think of the Earth as a ball rotating with a ring around it. The ring is fixed in space; twice each day, about 12 hours apart, Florida passes under the ring. IT is during these two times that they could launch to the station. However, the shuttle cannot launch on either of those two times, but rather only once per day; one is the ascending node and one is the descending node, and the shuttle can only head northeast from KSC and not southeast due to land overflight issues.

During launch yesterday for STS-122, the ISS itself was off the west coast of Australia at the time.

BrandonFL   February 9th, 2008 1:25 pm ET

We get beautiful video from space, but the audio is really bad. I'd think that, technically, it should be easier to send audio than video.

Why is the audio so bad?

aripiprazole prices   January 7th, 2021 9:33 pm ET

I simply wished to thank you very much yet again. I do not know what I would have used without those tips and hints shown by you relating to this theme. This has been the traumatic setting in my view, nevertheless viewing your well-written technique you treated the issue took me to weep with joy. Now i am thankful for your work as well as wish you recognize what an amazing job your are undertaking training the others with the aid of your website. Probably you haven't met any of us.

Leave Your Comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP