Space Shuttle Atlantis is on the final mission of space shuttle era after launching a few days ago from Cape Canaveral and president Obama just called the astronauts.
Unlike previous flights, there is something special this time. Remember in another post I introduced how to track satellites movement using Google Earth in real-time. Well this time NASA created two .KML files to let people to track Atlantis during launch and landing using Google Earth in real-time. The file, called live groundtrack file and replay of the STS-135 ascent are both available for download from NASA official website.
After downloading the files to your local PC, you can use Google Earth to open it. Or run Google Earth first and drag and drop the .KML file to it. Then you will see the shuttle and its current mission events like Solid Rocket Booster Separation and Main Engine Cut-Off (MECO) etc. The file updates every few seconds so it’s real-time location tracing.
You can either choose Auto-Follow (default) or Manual Control to view the shuttle. Auto-Follow mode will navigate you when the space shuttle moves. While with manual control, you can have full control over zoom in and what view you want.
The space shuttle path is a yellow line, while the mission events are shown as colored dots. If you click on the dots, a balloon pops up with information at that point like time, speed, altitude, latitude, longitude, and Mach number etc.