Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF)

Orbiter landings at the Kennedy Space Center are made on one of the largest runways in the world. The runway is located 3.2 km (2 miles) northwest of the Vehicle Assembly Building and is 4,572 meters (15,000ft) long and 91.4 meters (300ft) wide - about as wide as the length of a football field. It has 305 meters (1000ft) of paved overruns at each end and the paving thickness is 40.6cm (15 inches) at the center.

Click here for a detailed map of the Shuttle Landing Facility.

The facility includes a 150 x 168 meter (490x550ft) parking apron and a 3.2 km (2 mile) tow-way connecting it with the Orbiter Processing Facility . Located adjacent to the parking apron is a Landing Aids Control Building (LACB) which supports landing operations and houses operations personnel.

Located at the northeast corner of the parking apron is the Mate/Demate device (MDD) used to raise and lower the orbiter from its 747 carrier aircraft during ferry operations. The open-truss steel structure is equipped with hoists, adapters and movable platforms for access to certain orbiter components and equipment. It also is equipped with lightning protection devices. The MDD is 45.7 meters (150ft) long, 28.3 meters (93ft) wide and 32 meters (105ft) high.

The Shuttle Landing Facility is equipped with a number of navigation and landing aids to assist Shuttle pilots in landing. There are four sophisticated Microwave Scanning Beam Landing System (MSBLS) ground stations - two located at each end of the runway - that provide elevation and directional/distance measurement for landing approaches from the northwest (runway 15) or southeast (runway 33). Equipment onboard the orbiter receives the data from the MSBLS stations and automatically makes any needed adjustments to the glide slope.

A Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) system, located at mid-field off the east side of the runway, is used by pilots to execute an instrument landing approach to the runway. The TACAN has a range of 483 kilometers (300 miles), and is received by the orbiter when it emerges from the reentry blackout period. The final approach is guided by the MSBLS system.

Visual aids are provided by Precision Approach Path Indicators, known as the PAPI system. They utilize arrays of red and white lights that, when lined up properly by the pilot, will indicate the proper glide slope. A ball/bar light system is used for inner glide slope information on final approach - to inform the pilot whether he is on, above or below the glide slope for an orbiter touchdown point marked on the runway.

A Recovery Convoy Staging Area, located just east of the runway about midway along its length, houses trailers, mobile units and specially designed vehicles that are used to "safe" the orbiter immediately after landing for crew egress and transfer of the orbiter to the Orbiter Processing Facility.

A specially constructed earthen mound just east of the Convoy Staging Area contains bleachers, press facilities and a Public Affairs control room to suppport invited guests and press coverage during orbiter landings at the Kennedy Space Center.

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