Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

William Wiesel, PhD


This study investigated the possibility of abort landing the Space Shuttle at east coast airports when launched at inclinations of 51.6 degrees or more. Computer modeling was used to characterize both the Shuttle launch out of Cape Canaveral and two methods of unpowered abort descents from various points in the launch following Solid Rocket Booster SRB separation. The first method used varying values of pitch and roll held constant to control the descent. By plotting the latitude and longitude of the point in the descent when the nominal landing altitude was achieved against locations of east coast airports it was found that there are indeed east coast abort opportunities for high inclination launches out of Cape Canaveral. The second method used a constant pitch and roll until the proper heading angle to intercept a desired target airport was reached then maneuver to 0 degrees roll and 30 degrees pitch. These trajectories were attempted throughout the launch for different airports so that windows of opportunity could be established. It was shown that these windows exist but only for limited times ranging from 8 to 34 seconds. These opportunities may be expanded if further studies investigate powered and optimal control cases.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number