Kennedy Space Center - Runway Facts

The Primary Shuttle Landing Facility, at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), is designed for returning Space Shuttle Orbiters.  Opened in 1976, the runway is longer and wider than runways at most commercial airports.

NASA provides us with the following information about KSC's landing facility:

The paved runway is 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) long, with a 1,000-foot (304.8-meter) overrun on each end. The width is about the length of a football field, 300 feet (91.4 meters), with 50-foot (15.2-meter) asphalt shoulders on each side.

Although a single landing strip, it is considered two runways, depending on the approach: from either the northwest on Runway 15 or from the southeast on Runway 33.

Comparison to Commercial-Airport Runways.

In comparison, Orlando International Airport’s longest runway is 12,004 feet (3,659 meters) long and 200 feet (61 meters) wide.

The John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York has a runway nearly as long, 14,572 feet (4,441.5 meters), but much narrower at 150 feet (45.7 meters).

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago has a runway 13,000 feet (3,962.4 meters) long and 200 feet (61 meters) wide.

Miami International Airport’s longest runway is 13,002 feet (3,963 meters) long by 150 feet (45.7 meters) wide.

Runway Construction Facts. 

The KSC concrete runway is 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) thick in center, and 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) thick on the sides.

The landing strip is not perfectly flat; it has a slope of 24 inches (61 centimeters) from the center line to the edge to facilitate drainage.

Primary Alternate Landing Facility:  When returning Orbiters land in California, they do so at Edwards Air Force Base.  The following are a few statistics about that facility:

In contrast, the prime alternate orbiter landing site, Edwards Air Force Base in California, has several dry lake bed runways and one hard surface runway on which an orbiter can land.

The longest strip, part of the 44-square-mile (114-square-kilometer) Rogers Dry Lake, is 7.5 statute miles (12.1 kilometers) long.

Concrete runways are generally preferred for night landings [at Edwards] so the dust from the lake bed does not obscure the lighting.

Media Credits

Information and quoted passages, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center web site.


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