Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Santa Claus May Be Shooting Landings at KSC Shuttle Landing Strip
NASA Kennedy Space Center's three-mile-long Shuttle Landing Facility has been available for emergency landings by Santa Claus ever since its construction was completed nearly three decades ago.
It will remain available to him again this year. Santa may look in on NASA's Space Shuttle Return to Flight progress when he swings through Central Florida Christmas Eve. Although there is no concrete proof that he has ever had to make a landing here, there have been suspicious "blips" during the time he would be making his Florida rounds. And some reindeer "signs" have been observed by landing strip workers performing routine runway checks after returning to work from the Christmas holiday.
The jolly old toygiver's sleighs have been getting ever more "high tech" to cope with increasing demand from additional children. But added complexity increases the possibility of equipment failure.
"The boss could never have succeeded in meeting his obligations to the world's kids had he kept the old fleet of sleighs," commented Nicholas Claus, Santa's public relations director at his North Pole Headquarters.
Young Claus noted that Santa had upgraded flight electronic control elements in the sleigh fleet, including adding the TACAN and Microwave Scanning Beam Landing (MSBLS) systems used by the Space Shuttle. "He can land on a dime and get 20 cents change in virtual pea soup, zero-zero conditions," he added. "He can fly right down a chimney and not even get any soot on the runners."
The Shuttle Landing Facility's guidance systems will be left on for Santa's use on Christmas Eve should he need to make an emergency landing. But they'll be placed on "autopilot" to avoid personnel or administrative costs. Santa's Christmas effort is supported without expense to the taxpayer.
As the big day nears, suspicious radar blips and ghostlike airborne landing lights have been sighted late at night near the Shuttle Landing Facility, compelling some observers to speculate that Santa is "shooting landings" just in case.
Tightlipped managers at the facility responded with "no comments" when questioned about the sightings.
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