Bringing the Space Shuttle Back from Orbit

Paul Dye was a Senior Flight Director at NASA who was “on console” for many Space Shuttle re-entries and landings. He discusses the physics, engineering, aerodynamics, and teamwork required to land a 78 tonne glider from Mach 25 in orbit to wheels stop on the runway. “Actually, we didn’t need to clear much airspace for a Shuttle landing. When we began the turn over the runway, we were still higher than airliners fly.” “The wings were mostly for the (pre-landing) flare. Before that, we were mostly dropping like a rock.