Jan 30, 2013

Atlas V Rocket Prepares for Launch Tonight

The ULA (@ulalaunch) Atlas V rocket, carrying the TDRS-K satellite, has been rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida and is ready for this evening's scheduled launch.

I know this because . . .

I am standing here looking at it!

Not many people get this close to the launch pad.
And when it launches tonight,
I'll have to back up a bit.
Or get toasted.
Which might be worth it.
I digress.

NASA, in their ever hip, ever cool way has invited 60 of us to spend two days at the Merritt Island Cape Canaveral Kennedy Space Center area, tour their facilities, hear the latest news from various departments, then watch the launch in person.  This is called a NASA Social (@NASASocial).  In your social media, use the hashtag #NASASocial and #NASASocial #TDRS to find out more.

I've been perplexed lately to hear the public outcry over NASA ending the shuttle program.  To me, it has always been a matter of growth......
  Dismantling the shuttle program doesn't mean NASA is done with space exploration.  It doesn't mean the US is done with space exploration.  It means we're moving on to bigger and better.  It means we're collaborating with other nations, sharing resources.   (hint, hint, sharing - resources - as in sharing launch pads NASA isn't currently using with commercial endeavors)

NASA shared with us a variety of things they are working on right now.  Nobody is sitting back looking through scrapbooks of Shuttle voyages and saying "Gee, those were the days."  Although, the final landing of each shuttle in the fleet was always a sad day.  Read my surprisingly brief sentiments about Discovery's Final Landing.

A shrink-wrapped Atlantis, which made the last flight of the shuttle program, just arrived at Kennedy Space Center.  We were given a hard hat tour through the construction zone where the Atlantis will be housed.  Visitors to KSC will see Atlantis as she last landed, dings and nicks, dirt and all.  KSC is creating an incredible experience to preserve the memory of the Shuttle Program. (So in a way, maybe they are "looking through scrapbooks" a wee bit)

We're moving on, looking to the future where my great grandchild might take a flight around space as casually as I take a flight to Europe.  I can't wait to share some of NASA's exploits with you - I even got inside the mission control room (wait til they see the surprise I left them!!)  (No, of course not, I behaved).

More fun reading:
Astronaut Ron Garan describes re-entry on the Soyuz - Ron was hilarious describing his ride back from the ISS and comparing a ride on our luxurious shuttle with a ride on the t-tiny soyuz.  "Others said you'll feel like you're tumbling when you hit the ground. I thought, "No, I'm pretty sure we ARE tumbling."  - Astronaut Ron Garan

International Collaboration on the ISS -Expedition 25 snuggles up with the Russians in the ISS.  Ronald Reagan probably rolled over in his grave saying "What the world?"

For now, I leave you with the email that greeted me yesterday in the middle of all our NASA tours:

Courtesy of NASA Kennedy Space Center Public Affairs:

At 10 a.m. the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-K rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.

The weather forecast remains 60% favorable for the launch at the beginning of a 40-minute launch window at 8:48 p.m. EST Wednesday. The detailed weather forecast is below.

Launch coverage on NASA TV is scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog also begins at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, featuring live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

To view the webcast and the blog or to learn more about the TDRS-K mission, visit:

Join the conversation and follow the TDRS-K mission online by using the #TDRS on Twitter and Facebook at:

Throughout the launch countdown, the NASAKennedy Twitter and Facebook accounts will be continuously updated throughout the launch countdown at:

TDRS-K L-1 Day Launch Weather Forecast

Launch Day:
The Probability of Weather Prohibiting Launch:    40%
Primary Concern:  Cumulus Clouds, Disturbed Weather, Ground Winds
24-Hour Delay:
The Probability of Weather Prohibiting Launch:    40%
Primary Concern:  Ground Winds, Thick Cloud

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