The Shuttle Landing Facility is an airport located on Merritt Island in Florida and is part of Kennedy Space Center. Construction was completed in in 1976 and served the space shuttle program with the final landing on of Space Shuttle Atlantis on July 21, 2011.
The runway is one of the largest runways in the word at 15,001x300 feet (4572x91 meters) plus an additional 1000 feet (305 meters) of paved thresholds. The approach lights are 2,400 feet in length.
Today the runway is still used by NASA and private companies but is usually closed for public use. It's also where the X-37B land when returning from secret missions. It’s common for the NASA tower to allow private pilots to perform low altitude flyovers. The runway is so long that pilots will often land mid point on the runway when landing on runway 15.
This runway has some unusual characteristics that the MSFS SDK doesn’t support out of the box. I tried to address some of these issues. The default airport also looks a bit like an abandoned airstrip in the swamp.
- The runway edge lighting is offset from the runway by a wider amount than typically found at most airports. The runway is marked for 60 meters, but the actual edge lighting is at 90 meters. I created custom edge lighting to match the actual runway.
- Added lighted windsock.
- The approach lights are longer than typical, so I extended them to the full distance.
- I cleaned up the trees around the airport, approach lighting and roads.
- Added the mockup space Shuttle Inspiration near the tower. Don’t look too closely as I haven’t renamed the shuttle in the 3D model.
- Modeled the airports parking and apron markings. This reduces the number of parking spaces considerably, but that is a problem the real airport has. I made a large parking spot with an easy start position for larger jets.
- Added helicopter pads.
- Extended out new parking spaces near the old space shuttle hangar and back side of the airport.
- Added black and white center line stripe to the runway. I tried to get the black border on the other lines but it caused rendering issues from the distance. I suspect this might be why this is not a default paint scheme in the sim.
- Tried to make airport lighting as accurate as possible.
- Perimeter fencing added around the airport grounds. But I’m not going to add 10 miles of fencing around the perimeter. 😊
- Added runway distance marker signs
I plan to push out more update over the coming months. I’m still working on the runway textures, paint markings, cleanup and general optimizations. But it’s in a state where it’s better than the default airport.
I’m not a 3D modeler, but I do think some of these structures deserve custom models given their historical significance. If anyone would like to help, please let me know.
The approach lighting appears to be recessed from what I can see in images. I’d like to try to replicate this.
- I highly recommend Aquila Simulations Kennedy Space Center Scenery. https://flightsim.to/file/246/kennedy-space-center. This adds in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which is prominent at the end of runway 33 and launch pads 39-A and 39-B. The approach procedure for runway 33 is at an angle to account for the VAB location.
- I also made a water fix for Merritt Island that can be found in my uploads, https://flightsim.to/file/45929/water-fixes-for-merritt-island-kennedy-space-center-area.
- Some models from colinj, https://flightsim.to/file/16007/msfs-object-library-with-150-models-ranging-from-towers-hangers-terminals-to-cones, are used in this mod.