So, you may wonder why I haven’t mentioned much about the quickly approaching return to flight of the Space Shuttle, being as I am so closely involved with it. I guess it is just that it has been so long that I have a hard time believing that it is actually going to happen. The launch is supposed to be wednesday at 3:51 pm. It will really be great to see a sucessful mission after so long. I am posting a few pictures of some places around the space center that I have taken over the past couple of years. This is Atlantis, still stacked for launch just weeks after the Columbia accident. It was eventually de-stacked, an operation that is not often performed, and was returned to the Orbiter Processing Facility for modifications. It is currently almost ready for launch again and will be ready in case of any problems with the current mission.
This picture is of the Freedom Star, which is one of the boats that goes out to retrieve the spent solid rocket boosters and bring them back. They are then reworked and reused on another vehicle. I made a wrong turn on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station when I went over there to take a training class one night, and I ended up there, where the boats dock, and had to take a picture. The clouds in the sky were pretty interesting that day as well.
This is a photo of Hangar AF on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the very intersting and ominous clouds over it the day I went over there for training. The buildings over there are all small and old and funny looking in a retro sort of way. The buildings were used a lot in the space program in the early days of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.
So, this is just a little taste of space to get everyone all fired up for the coming launch. I am excited about it, i just hate to get my hopes up too much and then have it delayed (it is always delayed). I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the astronauts and their families with the constant uncertainty of when they are going to launch. It drives me nuts and I am not even going into space.
When the orbiter gets back after a successful mission, it will travel
this tow-way back to the Processing facility with it’s nose wheel on the blue line. It has been a long time since any orbiter has traveled this tow-way. It will be accompanied by a whole entourage of people and equipment, making sure that everything is as it should be and carefully monitoring the path ahead for any debris that could harm the tires. It will be a long hot walk for many engineers and technicians on that day, with the only shade being the shade formed by the wings of the bird.
Okay, so everyone, be excited for America’s return to space. This is a big deal. I will provide photos of the event if I can. This is going to be a historic launch, and in a good way this time.
By the way, click on any picture for a larger view- at least it works for me!