Even though I’m far from home and even farther from LC-39, I’ll be wearing my lucky shuttle tie tomorrow. That is a particularly silly thing to do since the tie isn’t even very lucky. We had plenty of launch scrubs when I wore that tie on launch day in either Mission Control or Launch Control.
But its what I can do to show my solidarity with the team these days. NASA is one of the few organizations that puts it all on the line in public. Most organizations have some kind of cover, but when the launch doesn’t go right, there is no cover. The OCO boys sweated over a great spacecraft but some glitch in the fairing separation circuit got them. That hurts.
Tomorrow evening we’ll try to launch seven folks into low earth orbit. That may not sound like much of an achievement, but it is far from a guaranteed success. So cross your fingers, get out your four leaf clover, or whatever it takes, and lets hope for success. One more time.
I’m out in Utah doing some management work for the agency, looking at the facilities which might be used for the next human carrying rocket. It was particularly exciting because I got to walk right up to the first Orion Launch Escape rocket. This beast will burn several thousand pounds of solid propellant in less than four seconds to get a crew out of trouble in a hurry. Rocket serial number 00001 is out there on the factory floor ready to ship to White Sands Missile Range where it will be tested later this year.
Overall, I saw lots of Ares 1 hardware. The DM-1 (development motor) is a five segment giant that will be tested in late summer. Everywhere I went we saw lots of new hardware coming together for the first time. Progress is being made.
Sadly, I was in the refurbishment shop where they are working on the last set of shuttle booster hardware. The old bird will be retired at the end of next year and any future refurbishments, if any, will be to make hardware available for the new Ares birds.
It has been particularly busy in space; a spacewalk today at the International Space Station was fully successful; the new Kepler telescope is being checked out after a successful delivery to space. A few days ago there was a successful parachute test for the Constellation program. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is in final checkout on the ground. Everywhere I go there is progress being made!
But lets all watch tomorrow, because as we all know, its far from a sure thing.