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The Question

(Submitted November 15, 1997)

What is the altitude at which the Space Shuttle orbits?

The Answer

The altitude at which the shuttle orbits depends on its mission. When the Shuttle docks with Mir, it goes up to 390 km (242 statute miles). Columbia, the oldest and heaviest shuttle in the fleet, can't reach that orbit.

David Palmer
for Ask an Astrophysicist

Questions on this topic are no longer responded to by the "Ask an Astrophysicist" service. See http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/ask_an_astronomer.html for help on other astronomy Q&A services.

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