Q:

What was the space shuttle's orbital path around the Earth?

A:

Quick Answer

Typical orbital paths for space shuttle missions covered regions between 57 degrees north and 57 degrees south of the equator and altitudes of between 155 and 600 miles depending on the mission profile. Orbital speeds were on the order of 17,500 mph, resulting in one orbit approximately every 90 minutes.

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Full Answer

NASA launched space shuttles from the John F. Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. A launch took approximately 10 minutes from ignition to insertion into the first orbit. The choice of launch site partially dictated the latitude covered by the shuttle's orbit, while factors such as the need to deploy or rendezvous with satellites at particular orbital levels determined orbital altitude.

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