May 162011

t: +10:00
not that any part of a spaceflight is ‘safe’, but we’re definitely into a less pant-soiling part of the mission. that was really exciting.

as much of a space-advocate as i am i have not watched very many shuttle launches. i’m not sure if the Challenger was the first launch i saw, i was only in second-grade, but it had an impact and these things make me more emotional than i generally like to get about such things. i’m not sure i’ll be able to watch the final mission, might break down.

got MECO, they’re in orbit. another OMS burn to hook up with ISS, but looks like we had an ideal launch.

t: +4:30
i’ll feel a lot better once we have MECO.

t: +3:15
wicked awesome. everything’s go. main engines still burning. 50 miles up

t: +2:00
SRB sep.

t: +0:!!!

t: -0:10 – counting
firing chain armed.

t: -0:30 – counting
there is a seagull that has no idea what he’s about to be a part of. arming sound supression. handing off control to onboard computers. good bye seagull.

t: -2:00 – counting
things moving on the tower. very exciting, everything nominal. praying.

t: -3:30 – counting
look at those giant engines gimbal!

t: -9:00 – resume count
can’t imagine the pressure some of these techs are under. last chance to verify everything is go, or if there’s that tiny flaw that you have to decide if it’s worth shutting down the millions of dollars and the hopes of so many. how many life and death decisions will be made in these minutes? though the number of lives at stake is few, the number of mortal decisions must rival that of warfare. but what a much better expendature of human effort. and i think, the risk of life. these are lives that know full well the risk, and the purpose. they are not soldiers, they are the cause.

t: -9:00 – scheduled hold – 5:00 to go
having said all that about the superbowl and NASCAR i’ll add that commentation is an art form and PAO’s often don’t have much more on-air saavy than some sports people. but at least they’re generally knowledgable. Schirra was a good NASA commentator. still not big on the lengthy shots of PAO’s talking, might as well leave the camera on the pad.

SRB’s are badass. the external tank looks funny, but it’s a great idea.

kinda too bad the Buran program didn’t succeed. The shuttle concept is good, it just needs to be redesigned with post-2000 materials and components.

going around the horn, sounds like we might be ready to launch this thing. “it is in the DNA of america to reach for the stars” -from Mark Kelly (CDR). i wish that were true, but the fact that we shut down Apollo after 17 tells me that’s wishful thinking. he’s an astronaut so maybe he’s got a perspective i don’t. i certainly hope he’s right.

t: -9:00 – scheduled hold
i just want to see this thing go as smooth as butter. easy peezy. i think that’s what makes NASA such a poor contender with NASCAR. nobody watches a launch hoping to see a crash, at least i’m pretty sure nobody does, if they do that’s messed up. not that it’s any less messed up to want to see a NASCAR crash but there is at least a slight chance of surviving those, and the rampant desire to see those crashes is pretty evident from the fact that there is still a ‘sport’ called NASCAR.

NASA is showing a little montage of Endeavor missions. Okay, not to harp on this but this is not great production value. I’m not suggesting that there be a production crew on hand for training and launches- the stock footage is fine, but use some modern editing techniques for god sake. would it kill you to throw in a little CG graphics showing the upgraded hardware or something? i know the budgets tight but farm it out to a film school or something, you could get some good production value.

oh, here’s some CG about the research hardware, that’s cool. still, now it’s all CG and looks like an industrial video. i hate pandering to the gen-X, Y, whatever, but hey- “you know what makes these birds go up? funding. no bucks, no buck rogers.”

t: -11:00 – counting
that’s a damn impressive machine up there on the pad. still would have liked to see a saturn V though. i can only imagine being up in that thing. what an amazing idea. how has this not captured as many imaginations as the xbox and ps3? kind of sad, but could still be remedied. this stuff is intrinsically amazing and if you peel away the acronyms and checklists you find an astonishing thing. all the other distractions in peoples lives are empty when you cut away the veneer.

t: -20:00 – resume count
this is some of the most coordinated and controlled work in the world. a symphony of engineering and genius at breakneck tempo. makes and amazingly dull show though. too bad we’re so obsessed with theatrics. i guess if you threw all the cash and production expertise that goes into a superbowl at it- it might spice it up. i’m not sure i’d want to see that but at this point i’d deal with the vulgarity of it to increase funding.

t: -20:00 – scheduled hold
one last soaring song
escape and return through fire
precious flight of hope

always looks so quiet on the pad at these times. so many things to check, so many variables to gauge. they’re just doing their jobs really, that’s probably how they think of it. they’re professionals.

let’s have a perfect launch and a perfect mission. god speed crew of Endeavour, and of the ISS.

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