But anyone at DL at the time should've heard something when the shuttle returned to Earth.
Orbiter - A free space flight simulator you really get a sense of how insane and how precise the whole process it is.
Its no wonder that only the best pilots get selected to be shuttle pilots. Every time I fly and the plane lands I am always reminded of what one of the astronauts said on one of the first shuttle flights, "Are we on the ground? Oh! We are!" Needless to say I still haven't found a commercial pilot that landed that good.
Yeah, the shuttle is an amazing piece of technology, but when it is coming in to land, it's basically a rock plummeting out of the sky in a semi-controlled state of total chaos. It is planned and plotted down to the last second and foot. And they come in screaming fast too... even after most of the energy has bled off.
Here's some cool info on Landing the Shuttle
Couldn't resist this:
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts_pS0BM95o&feature=related]YouTube - Space Shuttle Night Reentry[/ame]
Shuttle re-entry at night. The glow is a ball of plasma (atoms with the electrons stripped off. Fire is a plasma) surrounding it and the trail is lit by the moon.
Thank you so much for the video. I grew up in Lancaster and was fortunate to see and touch most of the shuttles as a kid. They would put them together in Palmedale and then haul them on a pick flatbed trailer to Edwards. Growing up in Lancaster you heard sonic booms everyday. It's always fun to see a persons reaction when they have never heard one.