Sunday, June 23, 2019

Day 3468

Today was amazing. We started the day by attending a press conference that was broadcast on NASA TV. We got to ask the payload specialists questions about the satellites that will be launched tomorrow. These were the people who actually designed the satellites, so the presentation was very interesting. I got to ask one question about the Deep Space Atomic Clock myself. I'm always amazed that many of the people working on these missions seem so young. They look like they just got out of high school but they have PhD's from prestigious universities and are already doing cutting edge research. When I think what I was doing at that age, I can't help but be very impressed. I think our future is in good hands.

After the press conference, we were taken out to the famous countdown clock near the Vertical Assembly Building. I've seen this clock in many memorable news broadcasts, but I never thought I'd be standing next to it. Traditionally, this is where the press watches important launches. Nobody will be there tomorrow though. The Falcon Heavy is still considered experimental by the Air Force and they still feel this location too close in case the rocket explodes. Our group, along with other members of the press, will be viewing the launch from a location near the Banana River.

I got to spend the afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The new Atlantis exhibit is fantastic. The Space Shuttle Atlantis and a full size replica of the Hubble Space Telescope are displayed as if they were floating in space. When you see a space shuttle up close like this, it is astonishing how big it is. I had no idea. The Hubble Space Telescope is pretty huge too. It's about twice the size that I thought is was.

There is a space shuttle simulator as part of the Atlantis exhibit that lets you experience what it is like to be launched into space on one of these things. Astronauts who have ridden in the simulator say it is remarkably realistic. I'm not a big fan of roller coasters and tend to get seasick, so I was a bit wary of the ride. What the heck. I knew I might not get this chance again, so I grabbed a seat on the simulator. It was quite an experience. The whole simulator tilts vertical and you are lying on your back during the launch phase of the ride. There is lots of noise and vibration and somehow they have even managed to created the illusion of G-forces. I enjoyed myself. As I was leaving this afternoon, I even got a space shuttle astronaut named Sam Durrance to sign my launch credentials.

Today was just a prelude to the main event. The weather still looks good, so everyone seems to think that the launch will take place tomorrow as planned. During the day, we may even get to go out to the launch pad and see the rocket up close. I'm not quite sure where we'll be going tomorrow, but it will definitely be someplace I've never been before. The launch is at night, so we were warned several times to wear a hat, long pants, and apply plenty of bug spray. The mosquitoes are supposed to be horrendous. We were also told that if we were late for the credential check tomorrow morning, the bus would leave without us. I don't take chances. I was early this morning and I'm sure I'll be early tomorrow as well. I hope the launch goes smoothly. I don't have a bucket list, but this is definitely a bucket list item.

Boo is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day