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Why did NASA build the Shuttle Landing Facility, and initially land the shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base, instead of landing it at the CCAFS Skid Strip? It's definitely long enough, because once a shuttle landed on the shorter runway at Edwards which is shorter than the Skid Strip and the Shuttle Landing Facility.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure the true answer is "NASA wanted to control the facility, not rely on the USAF", but no reference. BTW, we landed on it in the simulator. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 20 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble But they launched the Mercury and Gemini and early Apollo missions from the CCAFS too. NASA is a federal agency anyway. $\endgroup$ – Giovanni Apr 21 at 4:59
  • $\begingroup$ They landed the shuttle at Edwards too, but none of that is really relevant to what they wanted to do. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 21 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure @OrganicMarble nailed it when he wrote "NASA wanted to control the facility". That said, it will be impossible to find that in writing. What one can find in writing is nonsense such as "the Skid Strip also had an approach angle that was too long." $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Apr 21 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Giovanni No mystery, really. Edward was chosen for the early flights largely because the presence of Rogers Dry Lakebed mitigated the project's unknowns wrt the landing phase. $\endgroup$ – Digger Apr 21 at 15:51
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The location of the Skid Strip would require modification to support roads and bridges, plus the approach angle was wrong.

Relevant Text:

Different sites were considered before deciding on the current location. One of the sites considered was the Cape Canaveral Air Station (CCAS) Skid Strip. However, to accommodate the space shuttle not only required modifications of the Skid Strip, but also of the roads and bridges leading to KSC. The Skid Strip also had an approach angle that was too long. source

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't quite understand the approach argument, because the Space Shuttle could reenter at the correct distance and it anyway actually made turns before touching down on the runway. $\endgroup$ – Giovanni Apr 20 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Giovanni, I don't have a source, but my gut tells me that the skid strip was configured with visual markers for traditional plane landings in terms of papi lights and paint markers. To keep the strip open for those aircraft and orbiter landings would mean either two sets of those markers or a lot of painting over time. $\endgroup$ – Agbullet Apr 20 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ I'm also not sure what a long approach angle even means. What's a long angle? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 20 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble, I read it as "the angle at which a landing aircraft must approach the runway made the approach distance too long," which was just jargonized into "approach angle that was too long." Not sure if that's correct. $\endgroup$ – Agbullet Apr 20 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Giovanni FWIW, I've puzzled over the phrase "The Skid Strip also had an approach angle that was too long." Don't know what to make of it, unfortunately... $\endgroup$ – Digger May 20 at 15:16

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