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Discovery Ferry Flight Leaving Dryden

Columbia postflight activity on runway at Edwards Air Force Base

Movie Number   EM-0084-07
Movie Date   Circa 1981
Formats   160x120 QuickTime Movie (1 MB)
320x240 QuickTime Movie (3 MB)
480x360 QuickTime Movie (4 MB)
640x480 QuickTime Movie (8 MB)
Shuttle landing Still photos of this aircraft are available in several resolutions at

This 44 second movie clip shows Columbia postflight activity on runway at Edwards Air Force Base.

During 1977 the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, hosted the Approach and Landing Tests for the space shuttle prototype Enterprise. Since the shuttles would land initially on Rogers Dry Lakebed adjacent to Dryden on Edwards Air Force Base, NASA had already modified a Boeing 747 to carry them back to their launch site at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Computer calculations and simulations had predicted the mated shuttle and 747 could fly together safely, but NASA wanted to verify that prediction in a controlled flight-test environment before the shuttles went into operation. The agency also wanted to glide test the orbiter to ensure it could land safely before sending it into space with human beings aboard.

NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, developed a three-phase test program. First, an unpiloted-captive phase tested the shuttle/747 combination without a crew on the Enterprise in case of a problem that required jettisoning the prototype. There were three taxi tests and five flight tests without a crew in the shuttle. That phase ended on March 2, 1977. The second or captive-active phase-completed on July 26, 1977, flew the orbiter mated to the 747 with a two-person crew inside. Finally there were five flights-completed on October 26, 1977, in which the orbiter separated from the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA, as the 747 was designated) and landed.

Beginning on August 12, 1977, the first four landings took place uneventfully on lakebed runways, but the fifth occurred on the concrete, 15,000-foot runway at Edwards. For the first three flights, a tail cone was placed around the dummy main engines to reduce buffeting. The tail-cone fairing was removed for the last two flights.

Keywords   space shuttle; prototype; NASA; Dryden Flight Research Center; Edwards Air Force Base; Rogers Dry Lake; Shuttle;
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