787: Orbiter

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Orbiter
Normally, the Shuttle can't quite safely reach the orbital inclination required to pass over both those points from a Canaveral launch, but this is an alternate history in which either it launches from Vandenburg or everyone hates the Outer Banks.
Title text: Normally, the Shuttle can't quite safely reach the orbital inclination required to pass over both those points from a Canaveral launch, but this is an alternate history in which either it launches from Vandenburg or everyone hates the Outer Banks.

[edit] Explanation

This comic is about disputed territories and polar orbits.

At mission control, the main controller is planning the next check-in with the space shuttle, which is set to occur at 32.0N 35.5E, approx 20 miles north-east of Jerusalem, over the hotly contested Israeli-Palestinian territories. Frank and the other off-screen character start to dispute the ownership of this geographical location, and rather than getting involved in an argument, the main character decides to change the check-in to 35.2N 96.6W, approximately 50miles East of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which he considers to be a neutral and non-disputed location. Unfortunately, Frank is a dick, and he then starts to make the claim that part of Oklahoma in fact should belong to Texas.

The satellite would probably require a polar orbit (a "vertical" orbit passing the polls of the earth with each orbit) to reach both Palestine and Oklahoma, which cannot be achieved from a launch at Cape Caneveral, as the launch trajectories would cause debris and spent fuel tanks from the Shuttle during its ascent to fall in heavily populated areas.

In the title text Randall mentions an alternate history in which the Space Shuttles launch from Vandenburg, this is a reference to the plans to launch shuttles from there before the Challenger accident occurred. After Challenger was lost, the polar orbiting missions were scrapped and Cape Canaveral became the sole launch site for the Space Shuttle. Another possibility in this alternate history is that the rules forbidding orbital launches from Caneveral to a polar inclination don't exist, because nobody likes the Outer Banks (which would be in the flight path) and thus don't care about space debris falling on them.

[edit] Transcript

Cueball: Okay, people. The orbiter is passing south of Iceland. The next scheduled check-in will be at 32.0N 35.5E, over the Palestinian territories.
Off-screen character: You mean over Palestine?
Frank (off-screen): You mean over Israel?
[Beat panel.]
Cueball: I've rescheduled the check-in for 35.2N 96.6W, over Oklahoma.
Frank (off-screen): You mean occupied North Texas?
Cueball: Dammit, Frank.
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Discussion

So, I suppose a flight to the Diaoyu islands is out of the question then. Davidy²²[talk] 02:25, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

did you mean: Senkaku Islands? --Quicksilver (talk) 01:11, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

I feel like this explanation page is completely neglecting to explain the joke, which is situational humor in which Cueball, to avoid a workplace conflict between two people who feel strongly about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, eliminates the discussion before it happens by rescheduling the check-in to what he thinks is a place which has no territorial disputes. Frank then decides to be a butt and bring up the old Texas dispute. 108.162.238.203 16:56, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

May be a deeper joke here. When the space shuttle Columbia crashed, it was over Palestine, Texas. 108.162.246.207 02:37, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

The given lat-long for Oklahoma doesn't appear to actually relate to Greer County. I have very little knowledge of Texas vs Oklahoma turf wars, do some Texans believe all/most of Oklahoma should be within Texas? --Pudder (talk) 10:33, 16 October 2014 (UTC)
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