05.15.11

Endeavour RSS Retraction Photos

Posted in Astronomy, Space Shuttle at 2:23 pm by Rebekah

Viewed the rollback of the Rotating Service Structure today, from a few hundred yards from space shuttle Endeavour.

Words cannot express how INCREDIBLE the experience of standing so close to the pad was. So without further ado, I’ll let a few of my photos do the talking!

Be sure to CLICK TO ENLARGE!

Launch is still scheduled for 8:56 am EDT tomorrow, and it’s looking good!

GO ENDEAVOUR!!!

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05.14.11

Back in Florida!

Posted in Astronomy, Space Shuttle, Traveling at 4:40 pm by Rebekah

Well, I’m back in DeLand, Florida for NASA Tweetup Redux, as many are calling it.

If all goes well, those of us invited to the Tweetup a couple weeks ago will get to watch the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure (wraps around the shuttle) around noon tomorrow, from about 600 yards away! This is what I was waiting up for (and never saw) the night I saw this incredible shelf cloud over the Vehicle Assembly Building.

I have to arrive around 11 am (times are all EDT) and will be back at the press site by about 1:30 pm.

Then I’m going to have to get up really early Monday morning for the launch. The launch is scheduled for 8:56 am, but if we want to be there to see the astronauts drive by in the astrovan (and not turn around, as they did the last time I was there!), I need to be there no later than 5 am. It takes about an hour and a half from where I’m staying to the Cape, so you do the math…

There is a frontal squall line rolling through Florida at present; hopefully there will not be any lingering, morning thunderstorms on Monday. We also need storm-free weather tomorrow for the RSS retraction.

I flew through Atlanta today, and we had about a 20 – 30 minute delay in air (to Orlando), as we had to fly around thunderstorms on the Florida Coast. We flew out over the Atlantic for a little ways before circling back around. It was still a rather turbulent landing, though. After I picked up my rental car, I drove through some torrential downpours to get here.

I’ll continue to tweet/facebook about the launch and launch plans over the next couple of days.

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05.13.11

Heading Back To Florida!

Posted in Astronomy, Space Shuttle, Traveling at 11:32 am by Rebekah

I’m flying back to Florida tomorrow for the space shuttle launch. NASA invited those of us invited to the STS134 Tweetup to come back for the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure on Sunday (we can watch it from about 600 yards away!) as well as the launch of Endeavour on Monday (we can view it from the press site again).

Hopefully there won’t be any more hardware problems and the weather will be good for launch!

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05.09.11

I’m Going Back…

Posted in Astronomy, Space Shuttle at 11:38 pm by Rebekah

Just a note to say NASA officially set the launch time for Endeavour for 8:56 am Eastern on May 16th (Monday), and I plan to be there! Those of us invited to the NASA Tweetup a week and a half ago will be able to go back to the VIP site to watch the launch. My travel plans are set now, so hopefully it will launch this time!

I’ll fly out Saturday and return Wednesday. Yes, I prefer driving to flying, but I can’t afford to take the time (or money) to turn right around and do the road trip all over again. I still have to post more photos from the recent road trip!

So much to do, so little time…

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05.05.11

Home At Last! Now When Will I Go Back?

Posted in Astronomy, Space Shuttle, Traveling at 7:49 pm by Rebekah

Today I drove about 500 miles, from Alexandria, Louisiana, through northeast Texas, to central Oklahoma. It is good to be home!

My trip totaled 3,565 miles and 11 days, and it was an absolutely fantastic vacation. I am very tired, but need to get some rest tonight as I have numerous errands to take care of tomorrow and my sister flies in tomorrow night to visit for a few days! I will also be wrapping up some research work this month and hopefully be busy with some new developments on the job front.

Today I finally found some plantations; I took a slight detour northwest of Alexandria this morning, and found several beautiful plantations.

Here is the old Oakland Plantation home, built in 1821:

And here is the Paris, Texas Eiffel Tower that I have heard much about, but never saw until today:

It is 65 feet tall.

And here is one more photo from Paris, featuring the mascot of Paris Junior College: Pyro the Dragon!

And in case you think I’ve forgotten completely about the weather (though I have sadly been having a bit of a break from pouring over weather maps lately), there is a chance for supercells and tornadoes in my favorite chase territory (the Texas Panhandle into western Oklahoma) early this next week. I might even get the chance to take my sister out on her first storm chase!

Oh, and one final note: I’ve been hearing rumors that the space shuttle launch might just be delayed to some time next weekend. Again, this is better for me, as it means it’s more likely I can go. Hopefully it would launch then, though! NASA is going to have a meeting tomorrow and decide the next official launch date. I may then start looking at plane tickets. I loved the road trip, but I can’t afford the time or money to turn right around and do it all again!

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