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White Sands Space Harbor

White Sands Space Harbor

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White Sands Space Harbor (WSSH) is the primary training area used by NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 for Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 pilots flying practice approaches and landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft
Shuttle Training Aircraft
The Shuttle Training Aircraft is a NASA training vehicle that duplicates the Space Shuttle's approach profile and handling qualities, allowing Space Shuttle pilots to simulate Shuttle landings under controlled conditions before attempting the task on board the orbiter.-Development:The aircraft's...

 and T-38 Talon
T-38 Talon
The Northrop T-38 Talon is a twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2011 in air forces throughout the world....

 aircraft. Its runways, navigational aids, runway lighting, and control facilities also stand continuously ready as a backup Shuttle landing site. WSSH is a part of the White Sands Test Facility
White Sands Test Facility
White Sands Test Facility is a U.S. government rocket engine test facility and a resource for testing and evaluating potentially hazardous materials, space flight components, and rocket propulsion systems. NASA established WSTF on the White Sands Missile Range in 1963...

, and is located approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Alamogordo, New Mexico
Alamogordo, New Mexico
Alamogordo is the county seat of Otero County and a city in south-central New Mexico, United States. A desert community lying in the Tularosa Basin, it is bordered on the east by the Sacramento Mountains. It is the nearest city to Holloman Air Force Base. The population was 35,582 as of the 2000...

, within the boundaries of the White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range is a rocket range of almost in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR includes the and the WSMR Otera Mesa bombing range...


Runway facilities

In 1976, NASA selected Northrop Strip as the site for shuttle pilot training. A second runway was added crossing the original north-south landing strip, and in 1979 both lakebed runways were lengthened to 35,000 ft (10,668 m), which includes 15,000 ft (4,572 m) usable runway with 10,000 ft (3048 m) extensions on either end, to allow the White Sands Space Harbor (WSSH) to serve as shuttle backup landing facility. While the Space Harbor was activated as a backup landing site for STS-116
-Crew notes:Originally this mission was to carry the Expedition 8 crew to the ISS. The original crew was to be:-Mission highlights:* The STS-116 mission delivered and attached the International Space Station's third port truss segment, the P5 truss....

 due to poor weather conditions at both Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

 (high cross-winds) and Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

 (clouds and rain), White Sands has only been used for one landing of the space shuttle, that of the on 31 March 1982 for STS-3
STS-3 was NASA's third Space Shuttle mission, and was the third mission for the Space Shuttle Columbia. It was the first shuttle launch with an unpainted external tank, and the only mission to land at the White Sands Space Harbor near Las Cruces, New Mexico.-Crew:-Backup crew:-Mission...