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Tiny Island Plays Big Role in Space Shuttle Launch

The United States Air Force has a base on a tiny island in the South Atlantic Ocean - and that base has always placed a big role in the space shuttle program. The airfield on Ascension Island is one of the emergency landing sites for the Space Shuttle Atlantis, according to Armed with Science.

Air Force Major Ingrid C. Kaat commands the 45th Operations Group on the island. Her position requires her to be at the ready if the space shuttle needs to make an emergency landing at Ascension Island. If that emergency were to occur, Kaat would immediately become incident commander.

Kaat tells Armed with Science her team on the island is also responsible for helping narrow down the launch time for the space shuttle:


The Wall Street Journal reports today that it's not likely the Space Shuttle Atlantis will launch tomorrow, as originally scheduled. Kathy Winters, the Air Force Civilian Meteorologist, told reporters the predicted inclement weather means there's just a 30 percent chance the shuttle will go up tomorrow.