Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our SpaceShuttle adventure- days 6, and 7

Sorry we have not been keep up.  Things have been very busy.
When we last left our story  we had camped a wonderful view on Route 1 all day Wednesday, in a place where the Titusville police said we could stay the night.

As our story picks-up: a park ranger came in the evening to say we couldn't stay, and that there was a 'better' place 4 miles north of where we were. So we went from being 4 miles to 10 miles from pad 39A.  We were pretty sad. But did what we were told...

So we ended up near the entrance to the nature reserve. Actually all of Kennedy Space Center is a nature reserve. 220 square miles of it.  How cool is that?

This was our home for the night.  We dry-camped here, (that means we didn't have any hookups, so we lived on what we had in ourVan,) for the night until late the next day.
Notice the space in front of the campers?  That won't be there by launch time.

STS 133, Discovery Launch Day
When we woke up the next morning, the 1,000 or so RVs at the site had swollen to nearly 5,000 vehicles, as the day watchers came in cars. Every available space was used. It was one big launch party.  People were having fun, and generally being nice to one another.  It was awesome.

 Mommy went out at lunch, and was sad to see that her new spot was at least 10 miles north of the NASA industrial park.  But she could see both shuttle pads. So it wasn't so bad.

Then it was time to get some work done.  Mommy had orginally taken the day off, but an emergency had her in ourVan, coding a break-fix for a client. (Mommy writes computer code to pay for ourVan and our gushifud.)

As the count-down got to 60 minutes, mommy was still working. I could tell she was stressed that she was going to miss the launch.  30 minutes before the scheduled launch, she got it done, she gave us a skritch, and took her camera and binoculars and set out to find a spot.

I mention mommy's stress only because at 15 minutes to launch they had a "hold" because the range system was off-line. Now the range/tracking system is very important because the computers actually launch and drive the shuttle until it gets into orbit.  So the many steps it takes to get there depend on the tracking system to know when to do everything.  If this system isn't working correctly, it could be very bad.  Some poor-smart-guy, had 5 minutes to get the system fixed, or the mission would be scrubbed for the day. This made mommy laugh at her own small stresses. 

The poor-smart-guy did a good job, and at T -5 minutes, the system was up and running. Now I know he couldn't hear it, but a huge cheer went up for him, where we were. Then they all found a place to see the pad. And the crowd got very quiet as radios followed NASA's transmissions.

Mommy had Auntie SheShe on her phone, who was monitoring the status on the TeeVee.  Now she should have known something was wrong, when they started the final count and she didn't see any venting gases on the pad everyone in our group was watching.  But she figured they were just too far away. That's right, kitties, Discovery was taking off from Pad 39A, and she had her camera on Pad 39B.  The really sad part is that 39A was behind the single palm tree in the southern view. Oh well... 

And then, Discovery was off, for the very last time... (click the photos to enlarge)

Rocket booster separation
 Kitties, I know it is impressive, but our mommy's face was leaking when she came back!?!

We had a surprise visitor over the weekend, can you guess who it was?