When I started this blog, I wrote that I was going to provide you with some insight into the challenges and triumphs of the OCO mission. Today has definitely been a challenge.
Keeping with the theme of this blog, I’m going to stick more with my personal experiences from the last 24 hours, than the specific details of what happened (this info is available on the NASA home page).
The evening began for me as a boyhood dream come true….sitting on console at the Mission Director’s Center monitoring launch preparation communications. I felt a combination of excitement and nervousness as the countdown continued. The coordination and professionalism of the personnel participating in the launch is far beyond any expectations that I had before witnessing it first hand. As we went to the final countdown, my stomach was in knots. The tension remained even after everything looked nominal immediately following lift off, just waiting for the first positive signals from OCO.
Unfortunately, the dream didn’t end like it did when I was a kid. It is difficult to describe the bitter disappointment in the room when the NASA Launch Manager called a contingency. Faces throughout the room dropped. I just put my head in my hands. As bad as I felt, I know it was even tougher on the scientists and engineers who have spent countless hours preparing the observatory for this day.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we plan for the best, but prepare for the worst. That preparation was important, as it enabled the team to react quickly and prepare for the upcoming investigation. For me, the meetings, phone calls and e-mails have been continuous.
It was tough today, but we will go on. The people who work for NASA do so because we love the science…love the technology…and love the challenge. What we do isn’t easy and sometimes we don’t succeed. But as we recover from the shock of this loss, we will pick ourselves up and prepare for the next mission…the next challenge. NASA, and its Earth science program, will continue to do great things for the science community, the country, and the world.
Thanks to those who have taken the time to read my blog. I hope I get the opportunity to do this again in the future.