Keep Looking Up ~ Shuttle Watch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters)
Early risers across the United States may have an unusual opportunity to see the space shuttle on Monday as it glides through the atmosphere, heading toward a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The shuttle Discovery is returning from a re-supply and servicing mission at the International Space Station, one of NASA's final shuttle flights before the fleet is retired later this year.
Its route back to Florida will take it over much of America's heartland with touchdown targeted for 8:48 a.m. EDT weather permitting.
The supersonic glide through the atmosphere will fly over dozens of cities and towns. The shuttle, scheduled to enter Earth's atmosphere over the central Pacific Ocean at 8:17 a.m. EDT, should be visible over the Northwest USA about a half hour before landing.
As the shuttle descends, observers in the West, where it will still be dark, should see a glowing plasma trail, like a meteorite. In the East, where it will be light, viewers may be able to see a glowing cloud.
Those who can't see the shuttle may at least be able to hear it. The ship's double sonic booms -- shock waves from the nose and the tail of the shuttle -- reach the ground about 90 seconds after the shuttle passes overhead.