Answers Your Questions
| From: Jacob Paul Porter, of
To: Jeff Hanley, flight director
Question: How long does it take a space shuttle to get from the east coast to the west coast of the United States?
Answer: The shuttle takes approximately 93 minutes to complete a single orbit. The Earth's circumference is 24,900 miles and the United States is about 2,600 miles across, so the east coast to west coast distance is 22,300 miles. The shuttle travels in an easterly direction only, so it has to take the "long way" to go from the east to the west coast. So the fraction of the orbit spent between the two coasts is 22,300/24,900, or about 9/10ths (0.9). Nine-tenths of the the 93-minute orbit is just under 84 minutes. Consequently, to get from the west to the east coast only takes about 9 minutes.