Monday, February 8, 2010

Shuttle Launch - Attempt One

We got up on Sunday morning at 1:30am and headed to the lobby to catch the bus to our Shuttle Launch Viewing spot. (The launch was scheduled for 4:39am.) We were going to be watching from Banana Creek.

Near the Banana Creek viewing area, there is a big building with the Saturn V rocket (the one NASA used to get to the Moon during the Apollo program). In addition to the rocket, the building has lots of Apollo-related exhibits and a number of concessions areas.

Jeff and I grabbed some coffee and did some sight-seeing. The Saturn-V is pretty amazing!

Around 4am, we headed out to the bleachers to watch the launch.

You can see the shuttle all lit up across the water.

There's a big count-down clock at Banana Creek, so you can easily see what stage the launch is in. NASA has a number of holds during the count-down, the last of which is at "T minus 9 minutes" - that's what you can see on the clock here.

During the hold at nine minutes, they evaluate all the systems to make a final decision as to whether the launch is 'go' or 'no-go.' The discussion between the operators is played over a loud-speaker, so you can hear as they check in with all of the various groups. Unfortunately, due to weather, they decided that the launch was a no-go this night. (The weather problem was cloud-cover - there were lots of clouds relatively low in the sky. This is a problem, because if something goes wrong early in launch the astronauts have to do an emergency landing, and to do so they need to be able to see the landing strip and the ground - with low cloud cover, that's not possible.)

So, we got back on the bus and headed to the hotel - we got in around 6am and promptly fell asleep.

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