Barbara Morgan Shuttle Lands
US space shuttle Endeavour landed safely back on Earth Tuesday after a two-week mission to the orbiting International Space Station. The crew included astronaut Barbara Morgan, the first teacher in space. Morgan's mission came 21 years after Christie McAuliffe, the first 'educator astronaut,' perished in the 1986 explosion of the shuttle Challenger.
The shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center at 12:32 p.m. Eastern time. Within 30 minutes, six of the seven astronauts climbed out and inspected the ship, but Barbara Morgan -- who was wobbly after her stay in the weightlessness of space -- remained inside NASA's astronaut transporter. She had been the designated backup to teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe for the 1986 Challenger flight, which exploded during launch, killing all seven crew members.
Douglas Hagerman suggested that this would be a particularly numinous event because of the history. In addition, the event was of higher than usual profile because the shuttle suffered some damage shortly after taking off on August 8 when a piece of foam that broke off the external fuel tank, possibly accompanied by some ice, hit the belly near the landing gear hatch 58 seconds after liftoff, leaving a small gash.
We set the formal event to include 1 hour prior to the landing and 3 hours after, namely 1532 to 1932 GMT. The data during the four hour period have a positive trend with a Chisquare of 14716.730 on 14400 df for p = 0.032 and Z = 1.857.
For context, we look at the full 24 hour GMT day in the next figure. There are lengthy periods that appear to show some structure, including a strong negative slope early in the day, but a few hours before the landing, the trace takes on a positive trend that persists through the rest of the day.