Location Ben Guerir, Morocco
1400 ft / 430 m
32°7'50" N, 7°54'39" W
Ben Guerir Air Base is a former United States Air Force base in Morocco, later operated by the Royal Moroccan Air Force, which served as a Transatlantic Abort Landing (TAL) site for the Space Shuttle. It is located about 36 miles (58 km) north of Marrakech.
Ben Guerir was established in 1951 by the Strategic Air Command (SAC), one of five bases constructed in northwest Africa for the SAC during a "crash program" beginning in 1950. The base was located to allow rapid deployment of nuclear-armed B-47 Stratojets, without requiring aerial refueling. KC-97 Stratotankers were also deployed from the base. SAC occupied the base until 1962.
The base was designated as a TAL site for the Space Shuttle in July 1988, replacing the former TAL site at Casablanca. The site was chosen largely for its location near the nominal ground track of the shuttle orbiter for a mid-range inclination launch, meaning a diversion to the TAL site would allow for efficient use of fuel.
The base has one runway, oriented in a North-South direction. The runway is 200 feet (61 m) wide, with 25-foot (7.6 m) shoulders, and 13,720 feet (4,180 m) long, with a 1,000-foot (300 m) underrun and a 2,500-foot (760 m) compacted dirt overrun, for a total length of 15,720 feet (4,790 m). During renovation by NASA in 1988, the runway was equipped with shuttle-unique landing aids, including a Microwave Landing System and Tactical Air Control and Navigation (TACAN) system.
Ben Guerir last served as a TAL site for STS-111 in June 2002. The shuttle for that mission eventually landed at Edwards Air Force Base. The base was deactivated in 2005, after supporting 83 shuttle missions, due to concerns about its vulnerability to terrorism.
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^ a b Pike, John (2005-04-27). "Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco". Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/facility/ben_guerir.htm. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
^ a b "Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites" (PDF). NASAfacts. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. December 2006. http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/nasafact/pdf/TALsites-06.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.
^ "Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". NASA Facts Online. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 2006-12-18. http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/nasafact/talmor.htm. Retrieved on 2007-03-10.