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Old 02-07-2010, 09:40 PM   #21
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Cross your fingers for us and for NASA. All of the shuttle systems and countdowns last night and so far tonight are going very well. It is all up to the weather. They have some kind of a low cloud ceiling rule. From what I could tell from listening to mission control it is OK to have some but it has to be within a particular altitude and/or less than a certain thickness.

It is a touch choice. Spend time and money to go out there again, and hope they launch, and be disappointed if they do not. But if I do not go, and they do launch, I will be pissed about it until I die.
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Old 02-07-2010, 09:51 PM   #22
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You can't NOT go out there unless they've officially canceled it. Good luck to you and I'll be hoping for some good pictures soon.
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Old 02-07-2010, 11:10 PM   #23
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Then you have no choice, you MUST do it. It will be worth it if they launch, and if they don't, you gave it a shot.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:36 AM   #24
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I might be mistaken but I just saw on the news where the launch was delayed until Monday morning. Sorry to see that man, sucks big time.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:12 AM   #25
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its monday morning here and we are on the bus bout to head out to the causeway. the crowds yesterday were insane but it is much better tonight less than a fourth as many.

nasa is loading the astronauts into the shuttle right now. the bus has sat tv so we are watching nasa tv.

as long as the weathr holds it should launch in about three hours from now.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:38 AM   #26
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Good to hear. The radar shows patchy cloud cover, and seems to show it will clear in the area over the next few hours, so maybe you guys will get to see a launch. Temp seems right too. I'd love to see a night launch, I bet it will be something to remember.

Watching it live on Nasa TV. All checks out so far.

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Old 02-08-2010, 03:33 AM   #27
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awesome thanks for the weather report. im on the causeway right nlw looking at the shuttle. thin clouds overhead with some holes. right now it is a red on weather right? if it clears like you say then we should get a show tonight. fingers crossed. last night I could the recon jets circling the pad.

h **** the clouds started breaking from the east as I typed this. AWESOME!
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Old 02-08-2010, 03:42 AM   #28
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Still red for cloud cover, but they predict a gap around launch time. The radar has been showing patchy cover in the area over the last few hours. It builds then vanishes. Right now there is just a small patch over you guys, you are on the west edge of a 10 mile cloud going out over the Atlantic. If it's been doing like it has all night, it should be gone shortly. I'd guess you will see it on time. Even if there is a slight cover they will sometimes go ahead if they don't see any major cover, especially after being delayed previously. The day I was there they launched with low ceiling because they saw no threat. They will be clearing the pad within 5 minutes, door has been sealed for about 30 minutes now. No technical delays, it's all up to the weather now.
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Old 02-08-2010, 03:47 AM   #29
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Earlier I was going to say that the delay was probably okay because you could watch the launch with your family and not solo.

You're gonna be like ahaha.
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:02 AM   #30
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Damn clouds! Go away! They are building a little, but there is still clear skies all around, everywhere BUT the pad.

UPDATE: They are breaking up, now it's JUST on the SE edge of a small cloud patch.

-20:00

UPDATE:: Status now green. ~1 hour till launch of the final night launch of the shuttle. Man I wish I was there.

UPDATE::: You will get to see your launch in 8 minutes. Still green. DAMN YOU!!! I wish I was there for this. Enjoy it!

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Old 02-08-2010, 05:44 AM   #31
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that was AWESOME! 4ARDLY ANY CLOUDS

PHONE IS DYING MRE LATER
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:34 AM   #32
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OK back at the hotel. I could use terms like cool and awesome and what not but it would not do a good job of describing the experience. It was really great and now I am glad it scrubbed last night so my family was with me tonight.

Tonight was so much better in every way. The hotel pickup with the tour bus went very smoothly and the bus was much nicer. As mentioned the bus had Dish Network TV while we were traveling so as we drove out to the Kennedy visitor's center we caught the end of the superbowl and then watched post-game highlights on ESPN.

They dropped us off at the visitor's center and instead of standing in an incredibly long line (last night) we walked right into the entrance, and cruised right through the turnstyles and security. The crowds once inside were much less severe, negligible really. We ended up having plenty of time to walk around, check out some exhibits, and hit the gift shop. When it was time to re-board the bus to travel out to the causeway, instead of getting in another huge line with thousands of people in it (me last night), we just cruised right through a short line, and got on the bus. The tour guide mentioned that he had been doing this for several years and last night was by far the worst line he had ever seen. He had told us it would be much better tonight and he was completely right. Last night his tour bus company (Grey Line) had 34 charter buses full of people alone, not to mention all the other tours and private vehicles. Tonight they only had 11 buses.

They had NASA TV on the monitors so we were able to watch what was going on as we drove out to the causeway. My daughter slept through the entire trip to the NASA visitor's center from the hotel, slept in the stroller the whole time we were there, slept during the trip out to the causeway, and slept in the bus right up until the launch. That was fantastic. My wife slept in the bus with her right up until about 10 minutes from launch. We had a great spot right next to the bus so I was able to easily slip in and out and to check on them and warm up when I got cold.

I sat outside for most of the time we were at the causeway watching the clouds, listening to the chit-chat going on around me. When we arrived the sky looked just like it did the night before when they scrubbed the launch so I was not feeing too good about that. Though there are PA speakers at the causeway playing the launch control broadcast, we did not get much specific info on the weather. All they kept saying was they were on red status for weather, and it was 60-40 odds on launch. I got more from NA6C's post above than any thing else (thanks again). That post I made above... Literally, when I started it there was 80-90% cloud cover, then as I finished it I looked up again and saw the clear line in the cloud cover coming in across the sky from the East, and the stars reappearing. That was a very encouraging moment. I think that was sometime around the T -2 hour hold time.

So I kept one eye on the sky and though there were a few wispy clouds it was still much, much better. They then broadcast that the weather status was green and a collective cheer went up from the crowd. Then it was just a matter of waiting. They counted down to T -9 minutes for the built-in 40 minute (IIRC) hold at that point. That 40 minute hold seemed like a loooong time, waiting and hoping the skies stayed clear enough, which they did of course. Right before the count resumed I woke up my very reluctant daughter and we all went outside to watch and wait. T -5 minutes, T -3 minutes... wow, this just might happen... It was hard to keep my daughter awake and focused, but she managed (she was eventually all wide eyes and smiles when the shuttle launched).

Then the final countdown from T -10 seconds started. The crowd all counted along, and I saw them light the main engines, and the water vapor clouds billow out from underneath the platform. The vapor clouds obscured the entire shuttle for a moment, as I anxiously waited to see the SRBs light. Once those light, they are going no matter what. They lit, the vapor cloud turned the characteristic SRB exhaust color, and off the shuttle went. The flame plume was really bright, enough to light up the surrounding skies to where it looked like pre-dawn faint blue instead of the middle of the night. Up the shuttle went silently, riding an impressive column of fire.

And then, finally, the sound arrived. First we heard the main engines, then the whole symphony with the mains and SRBs. It was pretty loud considering we were 6 miles away, and was definitely visceral. We heard it and felt it. My daughter had to put her hands over her ears because it was loud enough to scare her a bit. We kept watching the shuttle go up for what seemed like several minutes. The engine plumes were visible for a long time, looking like a star at about Venus magnitude, then eventually they faded away. My wife spotted what must have been one of the SRBs falling back into the ocean after being jettisoned.

NASA wants everyone off the causeway ASAP after the launch so we boarded the bus and headed back home. Traffic was much, much better this time than last night and we made it back to the hotel quickly. They showed the second Eddie Murphy Dr. Doolittle movie on the bus which was amusing and somehow a good choice for a bunch of punchy sleep deprived people.

There were people from all over the world and from all over the country of course. UK, Belgium, Australia, Spain, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, etc.

So to sum it all up, it was fantastic. I am really glad my wife and daughter got to see it with me, and I hope my daughter remembers it for a long time.

Last edited by ZX-Tex; 02-08-2010 at 08:44 AM.
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Old 02-08-2010, 08:59 AM   #33
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That is really awesome. It honestly never even crossed my mind to go and see a launch but now you've got me thinking it's something I need to see hah. Glad it all worked out for you.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:02 AM   #34
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I got up and walked out on my driveway to watch it. It was awesome! From my vantage point (several 100 miles away in South Jax) it arced over a perfect 1/4 moon on a perfectly clear night. Last scheduled night launch for the shuttle so I'm glad I didn't miss it. I'm sure it was something else up close! Glad you got to see it.

PS. Found this pic on Nasa's website:

Last edited by clay; 02-08-2010 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:25 AM   #35
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Jealous <---

Glad you guys got to see it. Even on camera, those stadium lights lighting up the pad really makes for an awe inspiring sight. I can imagine in person it's much better.
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Old 02-08-2010, 12:08 PM   #36
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Glad you enjoyed it, I need to go some time. I enjoy what I can see from here +200 miles away, it's got to be amazing being that close.
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:09 PM   #37
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200 miles away in Lauderdale? Wow... I was there BTW for an AUSA Winter Symposium a few years back, very nice area. One of the best slices of cheese pizza I have ever had anywhere was in a local hole in the wall pizza joint near the beach. Can't remember the name, something Brothers maybe.

Clay that picture is a good one. That is pretty much what it looked like. The exhaust plume near the launch pad was visible for a long time. If you draw a line from the launch pad to the right along the axis of the right-hand vapor plume, that points to the causeway which is where we were at. That shot is from the VIP area where the press, politicians, and movie stars get to hang out. It is right next to the VAB about 3 miles from the pad. No tickets on sale for that spot from what I could see.

The first night I was there (the scrubbed launch) the bus driver drove us by the VAB and the VIP area. The VAB is huge of course. I also got to see 'the clock' that is in that picture above. The tour guy said they were trying to sneak us into the VIP area but it can't be that easy so I think he was just messing with us.

Overall I feel very fortunate. I talked to a lot of people that had tried many times before but did not get to see the launch due to scrubs and eventually having to go back home before it finally launched. Two attempts is not that bad at all really, and it all worked out nicely in the end.

All cynicism about the Shuttle aside, it is the most complex piece of equipment ever built by man, and the fact that it accelerated six astronauts and 17,700 kilos of payload into a 250 mile altitude orbit to dock with the ISS is really, really impressive. Rutan, Branson, and Virgin Galactic have a long, long, long way to go before they get anywhere close to that feat.

Last edited by ZX-Tex; 02-08-2010 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:17 AM   #38
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Here is a cool picture from the launch the other night. Makes a killer desktop! I was secretly there. It got a little hot and some of my skin blew off, but it was worth it for that shot! I'll be back to normal in 2 or 3 months of therapy.

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Old 02-11-2010, 10:11 PM   #39
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Dude, I was THIS CLOSE! IT WAS AWESOME!
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:16 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZX-Tex View Post
200 miles away in Lauderdale? Wow... I was there BTW for an AUSA Winter Symposium a few years back, very nice area. One of the best slices of cheese pizza I have ever had anywhere was in a local hole in the wall pizza joint near the beach. Can't remember the name, something Brothers maybe.

Yep, my house faces North so I can see it from my driveway, all I can really see is a ball of fire.

The Pizza shop is Primati Brothers (originally from Pittsburgh), they have 3 locations here and their pizza is the the only pizza we will eat.
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