A Launch to Remember (Part 4)

Friday 9:30a.m.: The KSC press rooms are buzzing now. The folks with the big cameras are busy setting up. Reuters and CBS are the only news organizations with permanent structures, so they have rooftop viewing posts. We’re sitting next to the reporter from the Miami Herald.

For those of you who know Anna personally, you can imagine her panic when she discovered that the beverage vending machine was sold out. Luckily, the snack truck arrived at 8am with cans of Diet Coke. Rest assured that Lofty Ambitions has recaffeinated and will schedule another break at the appropriate time.

STS-134 Crew

We’re unlikely to be able to see the astronaut walkout. The Press Center posted the sign-up sheet yesterday morning, and the 150 spaces filled up quickly. We’re on a standby list, but there are about a dozen people ahead of us and even more behind. The press officer who manages the launch events for us said that, in his memory, they’ve never taken 150 members of the press out to see the astronauts wave on the short walk from the suit-up room to the van that takes them to the launch pad. Another reporter just said that he’s on the list to go to the walkout, but he can’t imagine that they’ll be able to fit 150 people in the space for the press there, and it’s a lot of effort for a few seconds of waving. Still, since we haven’t seen astronauts in launch suits up close and personal, it seems pretty appealing to us.

We’re also unlikely to have coffee with the president, but we’ll see what happens. The KSC Press Center doesn’t know anything about the president’s schedule. We imagine that the White House coordinates their own press corps traveling with President Obama. He has a busy schedule today, with a stop in Tuscaloosa to survey storm damage and speak with residents there as well as his stop here for this afternoon’s launch.

STS-134 Patch

We’re having a great time despite these possible missed opportunities. We picked up the official photos of the STS-134 crew (we’ll have more on the crew later), Endeavour on the launch pad, and Discovery landing. We also picked up a couple of stickers of the STS-134 official patch.

The weather is looking to be relatively good for launch. There’s a 30% chance that clouds or wind could be a problem, but the talk is positive. If you judged by the way the sky has looked these past three hours, though, you’d have trouble believing the optimism.

The countdown clock just hit the three-hour mark, which signals a built-in hold. There are seven planned clock-stops in this launch countdown.

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