A Launch to Remember (Part 9)

Doug and STS-133 Astronaut Michael Barratt

While we’ll likely have another post or two in this “A Launch to Remember” series when Endeavour actually launches, we leave Florida today to head home to Southern California. Besides, the NASA shuttle management team met yesterday and decided that May 10 is now the earliest possible launch date. The latest news from Kennedy Space Center: “The date [May 10] is success oriented based on preliminary schedules to replace a faulty Load Control Assembly (LCA) box in the orbiter’s aft compartment.” That means that the swap-out of the LCA box must go smoothly, they must prove that the problem is in the old box, and they must not discover a problem elsewhere as they test the nine systems to which the new box will be connected. To launch on May 10, everything must go exactly right.

STS-134 Crew Patch

This morning, we have an interview scheduled with Stephanie Stilson, the NASA manager who is overseeing the process from each shuttle’s last landing to their transportation to the museums where they will go on permanent display. We’re working several angles of the larger space shuttle story, and we’re thinking about what that might bring to Lofty Ambitions.

After today, though, we’ll take a break from our series. In fact, tomorrow’s regular post will be about radioactivity and the ways we think about risk. In the meantime, here is an overview of what we’ve covered in “A Launch to Remember.” Just CLICK on the PART to read that post.

PART 1 (April 22): Lofty Ambitions is awarded media credentials thanks to Chapman Magazine and Knox Magazine.

PART 2 (April 25): Lofty Ambitions examines the space shuttle tile that the Leatherby Libraries archives recently acquired; Doug is overseeing the acquisition of NASA artifacts there.

PART 3 (Thursday night & Friday morning): We arrive at the Space Coast, discover some things have changed in Titusville, try to adjust to the time difference, and wake at 5a.m.

PART 4 (Friday morning): At this point, launch is a go for the afternoon, the external tank is being filled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and we’re pretty excited.

PART 5 (Friday afternoon): Lofty Ambitions focuses on the STS-134 crew, particularly Commander Mark Kelly (also see posts HERE and HERE) and Mission Specialist Mike Fincke, a new favorite of ours.

PART 6 (Friday afternoon): In person from just yards away, we see the astronaut crew in their orange launch suits as they head to the Pad 39A. After the launch is scrubbed, we catch a glimpse of the president’s motorcade; he says if the launch is Monday, he can’t return for it because he has plans (we now know what those plans were).

PART 7 (Sunday morning): Lofty Ambitions features the creatures of the space coast, including an alligator.

PART 8 (Sunday afternoon): We each ask questions at the Launch Status Briefing on NASA-TV, find out exactly what’s holding up the launch, and that it’ll take time to fix.

PART 9 (Tuesday morning): On Monday, Lofty Ambitions featured guest blogger Bill Taber, who also wrote about space exploration. Part 9 is the post you are reading.

For our earlier series “Countdown to the Cape,” about our trip to see Discovery‘s not-launch, see posts from October 27, 2010, through November 7, 2010.


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