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Microsoft Flight Simulator Downloads for Flight Simulator X, FSX FS2004. Free Access to freeware addons for your Microsoft Flight Simulator...









 FS2004: FS2004 Aircraft Space Shuttle Landing Challenge (REUPL)

FS2004 Aircraft
FS2004 Aircraft Space Shuttle Landing Challenge (REUPL) Featuring the Space Shuttle Discovery and celebrating NASA's return to space! The space shuttle is returning from orbit and has just completed its transition through 100,000 feet. You are between 80-110 nautical miles from touchdown. Your speed is Mach 3.5 and decelerating quickly as you pass 83,000 feet. Ground control has reported the TAEM guidance auto-landing navigation system and its backup systems have crashed. A critical failure has occurred and there is no time to repair and reboot the ground system before the shuttle will reach the runway glide scope acquisition point. You will have to manually navigate, locate the airfield, pilot and land the space shuttle. Can you do it?? This package includes the Space Shuttle Discovery redesigned using actual NASA-Boeing mechanical/aeronautical engineering data, panel, sounds and landing FX. The original .mdl file is by Matthew Moxon and a modified for FS9 panel byTom Kellner. Model repaint, flight dynamics, air file, sound.cfg, adventure flights and shuttle landing FX by Nick Needham Includes NASA's description of the entire landing process which you can now experience in Flight Simulator! This package includes an install for FS2002 as well. ENJOY! By Nick Needham

Freeware Downloads: Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Freeware FSX-FS2004 Downloads, flight simulator x downloads, fsx aircraft, Historic - Vintage Aircraft.



Flight Simulator FS2004 Textures / FS2004 Downloads Civil Aircraft
Compatibility: FS2004
Filesize: 26.97 MB
Added on: Jul-26-2007

This text README was designed using Windows Notepad and a Microsoft Sans Serif, regular style, #10 fonts with Word Wrap enabled. There is also a copy of the same instructions in Microsoft Word .doc format provided in this package.

Nick’s Space Shuttle Landing Challenge

Featuring: The Space Shuttle Discovery

This package does NOT contain a sailplane glider or a quick knock-off of another aircraft. If you do not fly and land this aircraft based on NASA's specifications, you WILL most likely crash. The flight dynamics, mechanical/aeronautical engineering data designed into this aircraft closely match that of the real space shuttle and as such if you attempt to fly, calculate approach and land this aircraft like a sailplane or a dead stick Cessna, you may be rest assured it will come to an abrupt stop. Also, because of delicate structural design of the landing gear system, as compared to the enormous weight of the vehicle, the shuttle touches down at an amazing 9 feet per second drop rate. There is a higher tolerance for drop rate however you must touchdown and drop the nose within the tolerances specified by NASA/Boeing or the suspension system will critically fail in this simulation, as it would on the real shuttle.

Included in this readme is a complete and detailed description of how the orbiter returns from space described by a NASA flight engineer. I will provide a translation of the NASA description detailed below in order to condense and simplify it for use in the simulation. I highly, highly, highly recommend you read that information before attempting to fly this aircraft. Following those instructions is critical to manually acquire the correct runway glide scope path and successfully land the orbiter.

********AS SUCH************
PLEASE DO NOT email me or post complaints about how this aircraft does not fly or land right....
You can be rest assured, it operates as it is designed to fly and land by NASA/Boeing with the tolerances that FS2X allows.

The space shuttle is returning from orbit and has just completed its transition through 100,000 feet. You are between 80-110 nautical miles from touchdown. Your speed is Mach 3.5 and decelerating quickly as you pass 80,000 feet. Ground control has reported the TAEM guidance auto-landing navigation system and its backup systems have crashed. A critical failure has occurred and there is no time to repair and reboot the ground system before the shuttle will reach the runway glide scope acquisition point. You will have to manually navigate, locate the airfield, pilot and land the space shuttle.

Can you do it??


The included original .mdl file (not textures) is by: Matthew Moxon (

The included original panel is by: Tom Kellner (

MANY THANKS to Matthew Moxon and Tom Kellner for their freeware contributions that made this combination freeware package/adventure possible. I claim no absolutely rights to their work.

The .air file and aircraft.cfg files were significantly modified by Nick Needham using NASA specifications to provide the correct (best simulated re-entry glide/landing for FS2X) flight dynamics for the orbiter using NASA's original engineering data for the real orbiters.

Shuttle Discovery repainted textures by Nick Needham

Minor .bmp visual modifications, eye-point and GPS programming corrections to Tom's panel for use with FS2004 by Nick Needham

Shuttle landing FX by Nick Needham

Sound package put together from snippets I found here and there, which work well for this scenario

Special thanks to NASA for the mechanical/aeronautical engineering data and advice that allowed the FS2X simulated flight dynamics of this aircraft to be fairly accurate and realistic.

Keep in mind that at 83,000ft the real shuttle is placed on auto-pilot all the way to touchdown. Although the pilot can remain in control up to the runway acquisition phase, the pilot of the real shuttle normally does nothing but monitor the entire approach and landing sequence and be ready to take over in case of a system failure. The crew normally does NOT land the space craft. They only drop the landing gear on command from ground control once the orbiter begins to level off at about 1700ft on approach to the runway. You will not have that advantage since FS2X airports do not provide the correct glide scope (10,000ft @ 6.9 nautical miles with a 17-22 degree attack angle - yes, you read that correctly) necessary to provide the nominal forward momentum and velocity to safely/correctly land the space shuttle.

This simulation provides an auto-pilot system in its panel however I would not recommend using it for approach and if you do use it, keep in mind the real shuttle (like the simulated version provided) has a nominal drop rate of 5000fpm. It will quickly stall if you try to maintain a level wing for a period of time at lower altitudes (35,000 and under). If you happen to do a hard, flat-out stall, pitch-down recovery at less than 15,000ft will be difficult. Below 8,000ft it would not be likely due to the orbiter's delta wing hypersonic design adding in the average landing weight of 220-230,000lbs when returning from the space station. The included flight dynamics of the orbiter included with this package will properly react to atmospheric changes as it descends.

The shuttle is not nick-named the "FLYING BRICK" for nothing!!!!

In order to NOT make the simulation too difficult for beginners I set the landing weight of the orbiter to 215,000lbs over an even span of the entire orbiter. You can modify the aircraft.cfg file if you wish to reflect an empty weight of 172,000lbs and place weight in stations that would better reflect an uneven load that the shuttle would normally carry. This will make manual landing control even trickier and add more dynamics to the simulation as you get the hang of successfully landing the Space Shuttle Discovery.


Any feedback, comments, suggestions or support issues should be directed to:

Nick Needham

I did my best to eliminate bugs but with any software there could be unknown issues that come up. As far as I know everything works as designed.

I sincerely hope the flight simulator community enjoys this aircraft/simulation.


Unless otherwise specified in writing, the software provided herein is for your personal and non-commercial use. You may not modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, perform, reproduce, publish, license, to create derivative works from in order to transfer and sell any information, software, products or services obtained from the use or review of this software package.


Only the websites and/or companies I have given expressed written consent to distribute this effects package are authorized to distribute it as FREEWARE. An authorized distributor falls under the same distribution guidelines as defined above. The end user is authorized to use this package strictly for personal use in conjunction with MS Flight Simulators. Proper acquisition of expressed written consent is required before reusing this package, in part, in whole or in any other fashion in order to avoid legal issues from unauthorized reproduction and distribution.

All Microsoft products and the effects code used in the custom designed effects/.cfg files contained herein are the property of Microsoft Corporation through the terms of the Flight Simulator End User License Agreement and are protected by registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. No intent to defraud or illegally use the Microsoft trademark, its software, code, name or secure any income or compensation from the production of this effects package is expressed or implied with the creation of this effects package and supporting files. Any other company names, names of authors or their work displayed in this package are for reference only. Unless otherwise specified, no connection to them or their products is expressed or implied. The author of this software or the site it was downloaded from is not responsible for any damage that may result from its installation or use.

********* KNOWN ISSUES ***

The original model (.mdl file) is old and has some small visual anomalies which I could not correct. It is also shy of some texture calls that could have been a bit better detailed. I did the best I could in repainting this aircraft based on what I had to work with.

There is some minor sinking of the rear wheels on the main gear ONLY during rotation to drop the nose at landing, otherwise the gear sits at the correct position on the ground.

All in all I thought the visual rendering came out pretty good with the very simple base I had to work from on the model file.

I do not own FS2002 and can not test this package with it. I hope this package works with that version of Flight Simulator without issues.


Unzipping this downloaded to a location of your choice will produce the following files inside a NSC folder:

a. NicksShutChal_FS2004 Directory= For FS9 (2004) Installs

b. NicksShutChal_FS2002 Directory= For FS2K2 (2002) Installs

c. Images directory = includes pictures of the shuttle in action

d. CHALLENGE_FLIGHTS directory= The pre-set landing challenge adventure flights for FS2004 (I do not know if they will work for FS2002)

e. screenshot.jpg or screenshot.gif = Introduction Image

f. FILE_ID.DIZ = A synopsis of the product

g. README_NOW!.txt = This instruction file and tutorial

h. panel-ID.JPG= Tom Kellner’s image to identify his panel controls

READY?.. Heeeeeeeere we go!



The following files will install the needed effects files, gauges and aircraft to their proper locations.
I provided two installation folders in this package:

NicksShutChal_FS2004 -and- NicksShutChal_FS2002

MAKE SURE you open the correct folder for your version of Flight Simulator. The GPS calls in the panel.cfg file for FS2002 will not work for FS2004 and visa-versa.

a.) Copy and paste the:


....folders directly into your Flight Simulator directories as shown below:

For FS9 (FS2004) Users:
C:Program FilesMicrosoft GamesFlight Simulator 9

For FS2002 users:
C:Program FilesMicrosoft GamesFS2002

b.) If your version of Flight Simulator is located other than where I have indicated above you MUST browse the Winzip extractor manually to the correct location.

If/when prompted, say: YES TO ALL to allow the Copy/Paste process to complete.

The files are now installed

c. Go to STEP 2.


You are almost ready to fly...

Please review the "panel-ID.JPG" located inside the "Nicks Shuttle Challenge" folder installed in the Aircraft directory of your main Flight Simulator installation. This image will get you acquainted with the panel. The most important things to know are where the following are located:

Speed Brake
Landing Gear

I modified the HUD in the panel bitmaps so only the LCD display (without the frame) shows up in the simulator making viewing outside of the window easier.

Tom did a great job of establishing the forward ZOOM so do NOT change it from the normal .50x in forward cockpit view or you WILL under/overshoot the runway. Although it may seem strange at first, the .50x cockpit view zoom is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT and displays the forward view properly.

There are several adventures set up in the CHALLENGE_FLIGHTS folder provided with this package. Kennedy Space Center and Edwards Air Force Base re-entry simulations have been designed based on NASA's description of re-entry. There is also a practice landing simulation that place the orbiter at the correct altitude and on the correct glide scope/angle of attack at Edwards AFB. All pre-designed flights are set up to start fairly stable and are paused so you can prepare yourself for the flight.

There are 2 ways to fly this aircraft in the simulator:

1.) Use the pre-designed flights which place the shuttle at the correct re-entry point/speed @ 83,000 feet.

2.) Ground take-off (has an approximate 30 second boost of thrust @350,000lbs per engine)

You will find the Space Shuttle Discovery listed in the sim under the manufacture: NASA/Boeing

NOTE: If you take off from the ground, DO NOT GO TO FULL THROTTLE ON THE GROUND. Release the parking brake, leave the throttle at 0 and MAKE SURE the landing gear is retracted as soon as you become airborne as it will blow out @ 340 knots. Upon rotation off the ground, slowly bring the angle of ascent up to around 25-30 degrees and then hit full throttle. (Ignore the stall warning if it sounds) As you accelerate, slowly increase the angle to 60+ degrees and maintain this flight path after the engines shut down. Start to level off when the orbiters lift velocity drops to around 700knots. There is enough engine boost to get the orbiter to 70-90,000 feet if you ascend it correctly. If you attempt to pitch up too fast it will overstress the aircraft during boost. If you stall out before you complete the apogee maneuver, pitch down 45 degrees until the orbiter obtains an airspeed of 285-325knots, then level off and begin your decent.

In either scenario you must now manually pilot the shuttle to a safe landing…



The following information is directly from NASA and explains in exact detail the re-entry sequence of the real space shuttle. My summary follows this:

The entry thermal control phase is designed to keep the thermal protection system's bond line within design limits. A constant heating rate is maintained until the velocity is below 19,000 feet per second.

In the equilibrium glide phase, the orbiter effects a transition from the rapidly increasing drag levels of the temperature control phase to the constant drag level of the constant drag phase. Equilibrium glide is defined as flight in which the flight path angle, the angle between the local horizontal and the local velocity vector, remains constant. This flight regime provides the maximum downrange capability. It lasts until drag acceleration reaches 33 feet per second squared.

The constant drag phase begins at 33 feet per second squared and angle of attack is initially 40 degrees, but it begins to ramp down until it reaches approximately 36 degrees by the end of this phase.


The transition phase is entered as the angle of attack continues to ramp down, reaching about 14 degrees at TAEM interface, with the vehicle at an altitude of some 83,000 feet, traveling 2,500 feet per second (Mach 2.5), and 52 nautical miles (59 statute miles) from the runway. At this point, control is transferred to TAEM guidance. During these entry phases, the orbiter's roll commands keep the orbiter on the drag profile and control cross range.

Between 80,000 and 60,000 feet a catastrophic mid decent stall of the orbiter can take place while this transition phase is occurring as the orbiter enters, rams and is rapidly slowed down by the thicker air atmosphere. Until the orbiter hits 60,000 feet it is kept on a 10-12 degree angle of attack and the control surface movements are kept to an absolute minimum. At approx 60,000 feet the orbiter is slowly leveled off if necessary. At 50,000 feet either level wing or a 5-8 degree angle of attack is established and held as the required glide path and decent are established. At level wing the drop rate for the orbiter is nominally 5,000+ feet per minute. The calculations for the glide based on the position are entered or transmitted into the nav system to bring the orbiter to the correct altitude and heading for the runway alignment phase.

TAEM guidance steers the orbiter to the nearest of two heading alignment cylinders, whose radii are approximately 18,000 feet and whose locations are tangent to and on either side of the runway centerline on the approach end. Normally, the software is set to fly the orbiter around the HAC on the opposite side of the extended runway centerline. This is called the overhead approach. If the orbiter is low on energy, it can be flagged to acquire the HAC on the same side of the runway. This is called the straight-in approach. In TAEM guidance, excess energy is dissipated by an S-turn, and the speed brake can be used to modify drag, lift-to-drag ratio and the flight path angle under high-energy conditions. This increases the ground track range as the orbiter turns away from the nearest HAC until sufficient energy is dissipated to allow a normal approach and landing guidance phase capture, which begins at 10,000 feet at the nominal entry point. The orbiter can also be flown near the velocity for maximum lift over drag or wings level for the range stretch case, which moves the approach and landing guidance phase to the minimum entry point.

At TAEM acquisition, the orbiter is turned until it is aimed at a point tangent to the nearest HAC and continues until it reaches way point 1. At way point 1, the TAEM heading alignment phase begins, in which the HAC is followed until landing runway alignment, plus or minus 20 degrees, is achieved. As the orbiter comes around the HAC, it should be lined up on the runway and at the proper flight path angle and airspeed to begin the steep glide slope to the runway.

In the TAEM pre-final phase, the orbiter leaves the HAC, pitches down to acquire the steep glide slope, increases airspeed and banks to acquire the runway centerline, continuing until it is on the runway centerline, on the outer glide slope and on airspeed.

The approach and landing guidance phase begins with the completion of the TAEM pre-final phase and ends when the orbiter comes to a complete stop on the runway. The approach and landing interface airspeed requirement at an altitude of 10,000 feet is approximately 290 knots, plus or minus 12 knots, equivalent airspeed, 6.9 nautical miles (7.9 statute miles) from touchdown. Auto-land guidance is initiated at this point to guide the orbiter to the minus 19- to 17-degree glide slope (which is more than seven times that of a commercial airliner's approach) aimed at a target approximately 0.86 nautical mile (1 statute mile) in front of the runway.

The descent rate in the latter portion of TAEM and approach and landing is greater than 10,000 feet per minute (approximately 20 times higher than a commercial airliner's standard 3-degree instrument approach angle). The steep glide slope is tracked in azimuth and elevation, and the speed brake is positioned as required.

Approximately 1,750 feet above the ground, guidance sends commands to keep the orbiter tracking the runway centerline, and a pre-flare maneuver is started to position the orbiter on a shallow 1.5-degree glide slope in preparation for landing, with the speed brake positioned as required. At this point, the crew deploys the landing gear.

Final flare is begun at approximately 80 feet to reduce the sink rate of the vehicle to less than 9 feet per second. After the spacecraft crosses the runway threshold-way point 2 in the auto-land mode-navigation uses the radar altimeter vertical component of position in the state vector for guidance and navigation computations from an altitude of 100 feet to touchdown. Touchdown occurs approximately 2,500 feet past the runway threshold at a speed of 184 to 196 knots (211 to 225 mph). As the airspeed drops below 165 knots (189 mph), the orbiter begins deterioration in preparation for nose gear slap-down.


Nicks Summary:

In the simulation, do the following:

You can change the HUD brightness using the shift-2, -3, -4, and shift-5 keyboard commands

At 83,000 (or so) feet the simulation begins. Un-Pause the simulation. The shuttle should be fairly stable but be ready to establish control. DO NOT make any control surface changes other than + or - pitch. After a short burst of thrust (designed to bring the orbiter up to the correct forward velocity/momentum in Flight Simulator) the airspeed starts to drop. You can ascend a bit if you like during the 8-15 second boost but DO NOT ascend past 98,000ft or you will be susceptible to the dreaded Flight Simulator errors at the 100,000ft limit.

If you do ascend, keep in mind it is possible to overshoot the direct approach for the runway at KSC and you may need to abort and choose another airport to land safely. The Edwards AFB adventure starts a bit further from the airport and it is recommended you maintain a shallow angle of attack during your ascent or you may come up short on the runway acquisition point.

As airspeed starts drop from Mach 3, set your angle of attack to approximately minus 10-12 degrees. Do not attempt to level off (less than minus 8-10 degree angle of attack) before 55-60,000 feet or a critical stall can occur while the orbiter rapidly decelerates as it rams the heavier air in the upper atmosphere. DO NOT make control surface moves other than + and - pitch during this phase of re-entry.

At 58-55,000 feet level off to a 5-8 degree angle of attack and get your bearings as to the location and direction to runway acquisition. Use the GPS or other utility you may have to locate the runways. Set your course and angle of attack to accommodate your position relative to where you will need to acquire the correct altitude and angle of attack for the runway approach.

After reaching FL50,000 …

FOR THE KSC CHALLENGE: Maintain a heading of 175 degrees. Once over the intercostal waterway, look for airport X50 ahead. Fly approximately 2-5 miles past X50, then turn to course 154 degrees and the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility should be in front of you. Please verify your location with the GPS as you go along. You are looking for the airport listed as: X68.

FOR THE EDWARDS AFB CHALLENGE: Maintain a heading 080 degrees. Just before airport OCL6, turn to course 045 degrees and Edwards AFB should be in front of you. Please verify your location with the GPS as you go along. You are looking for the airport listed as: KEDW.

********The MOST IMPORTANT step to remember is this one********
No matter what airport you are attempting to land at, you must try to position the orbiter head-on to the runway, 8 miles (6.9 nautical miles) from the beginning of the runway at 10-12,000ft. This will place the orbiter at the correct position to develop the needed forward velocity to flair and land within the mechanical and aerodynamic specifications of the shuttle. You are basically setting up a “dive bomb” run so do not be surprised by the angle of approach. It WILL look too steep and it WILL look like you will not be able to pull out of the dive, but if you do it right, it will work as NASA has designed!

If you decide in the critical last moments that the NASA selected runway cannot be safely obtained, there are other airports, air strips and the desert (at the Edwards AFB location) available for making a landing attempt. You will have to make that call when the time comes. The shuttle normally lands on runways of 15,000ft length so any other landing site will present their individual problems. I have personally aborted at KSC X68 (Kennedy Space Center), landed on nearby small dirt/gravel airstrips and navigated thousands of feet through the trees past the end of the runway. It’s an exciting ride to successfully accomplish in an emergency!!

At approximately 8 miles (6.9 nautical) and 10-11,000ft, begin the glide scope phase by pitching down to 17-22 degrees. It will appear like a dive-bomb run and can be intimidating the first time you attempt it.

I will stop here. There is more information I can give you but it would not be a fun adventure if I tell you all the tips and tricks…

It’s your ship now. Your crew is counting on you to get them home safely.

Keep in mind the toe brake scale is set to properly simulate the shuttles enormous weight and forward velocity as it rolls down the runway. It will NOT slow down rapidly.

The runway towers at KSC and Edwards have been set in the simulation at +40ft positioned directly beside the runways to give you a good show of your accomplishment. You can change this location if you wish prior to un-pausing the beginning of the scenario. You may also change the weather during the pause phase at the beginning of any flight prior to starting the simulation. It is set to “fair weather” by default.


If you are having trouble landing the orbiter, email me and I will send you a list of 6 more critical tips to assist with proper landing. They are translations from the NASA description above but the same information.

From: Nick Needham

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