In this graphic, all world-wide designated Space Shuttle Landing Sites are identified. The sites in the two blue boxes are defined in the other two images below.
The three PLS sites were EDW – Edwards Air Force Base, NOR – Northrup, White Sands Space Harbor, and KSC – Kennedy Space Center.
ELS sites ranged from those also used for Trans-Atlantic Abort Landing (TAL) sites as well as true “Emergency” sites (Hao Atoll and Easter Island in the South Pacific). Hao and Easter Island had originally intended as “TAL” sites for launches planned from Vandenberg.
In this graphic, sites in the Eastern Continental United States (CONUS) are displayed.
Kennedy (KSC) was, of course, the launch facility, but was also the Return-to-Launch-Site (RTLS) abort landing site. RTLS was a very dangerous, and thankfully never executed, abort scenario. It was simulated many many times, however, and had the crew and the MCC needed to perform it, they were ready.
Sites up the East Coast were all on high-alert during a launch that might have needed them at a moment’s notice.
Europe and Africa Map
In this final graphic, sites in Europe and Northern Africa are displayed.
The selection of the sites were specific to the launch inclination. More easterly launches (28.5 degree inclination) would have resulted in lower latitude potential abort landings, while the Mir/ISS launches (51.6 degree inclination) and higher would have engaged more of the northern/European sites.
Post-launch, these sites were also kept on hold for potential ELS opportunities.