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Capabilities

    Currently, White Sands Test Facility (WSSH) can accommodate all NASA and most military aircraft. Aircraft as large as C-17, C-5As, B-52s, and Boeing 747s have landed there. Because of airspace restrictions by WSMR and NASA programs, the airfield is not generally available; permission to land must be obtained from WSMR and WSSH.

    Two Space Shuttle certified runways are 35,000 ft (11,000 m) long by 300 ft (91 m) wide with wide shoulders.

    Capabilities

    The third runway is 12,800 ft (3,900 m) long by 150 ft (46 m) wide.

    Capabilities

    The hard-packed gypsum strip provides what the shuttle needed in the early landings and still may be needed under emergency situations: a long, forgiving runway.

    Capabilities

    The north-south runway is configured to simulate the runway at Kennedy Space Center, Florida,

    Capabilities

    while the east-west runway simulates the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California. In 1987, a third, shorter runway was constructed to simulate the transatlantic abort landing site at Ben Guerir, Morocco, and is used to simulate training at Moron, Spain and Istrus, France.

    WSSH is one of three designated abort once around (AOA) landing facilities. It is the primary AOA facility for high inclination launches (greater than 51.6 degrees) and secondary for International Space Station missions (51.6 degrees). All three runways are groomed continually for training missions, and the north-south and east-west runways are laser leveled to a tolerance of ± 1 in.(2.5 cm)/1,000 ft (304.8 m) to maintain readiness for shuttle landing. The long runways are certified to support the weight of the shuttle aircraft by using a large specially designed loadcart.

    For additional information about White Sands Space Harbor, contact Robert Mitchell, (575) 524-5774, or robert.e.mitchell@nasa.gov.