“Well,” said Ford, “if we’re lucky it’s just the Vogons come to throw us into space.”
“And if we’re unlucky?”
“If we’re unlucky,” said Ford grimly, “the captain might be serious in his threat that’s he’s going to read us some of his poetry first….”
~Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
“Will we,” Lofty Ambitions asks, “see STS-135 thrown into space today, or will we turn to poetry?”
We awoke at 3:15 a.m. That allowed for about 5 hours of sleep (after our all-nighter), which pleased us enormously.
We headed from our motel in Titusville to Kennedy Space Center, with caffeine in hand, at about 4:00 a.m. The coastal road of Titusville is already lined with cars and tents, bustling with people. A band will play in the Walgreens parking lot, and vendors with souvenirs and food are setting up everywhere (even at the KSC News Center). The potential for a million people is definitely there. But traffic into the area didn’t seem too heavy yet, with about 7 hours to go.
The traffic for the security check just off the highway held us up for an extra 35 minutes, and we were worried because we still had 6 miles to go. The Astronaut Hall of Fame and the KSC Visitor Complex along the way have a summer concert buzz, for those who were able to get tickets. We made it to the News Center by 5:30 a.m.
At KSC, 2500 media folks have been processed, and 45,000 VIPs are expected for today’s viewing. That doesn’t even count the thousands of NASA employees. It’s the more excitement that 6:00 a.m. usually offers anywhere.
Right now, everything looks good for launch, except that pesky weather. The sun is rising, revealing the thick clouds overhead (see our post about weather launch criteria HERE). The 70% chance of a weather delay remains, but 30% is good enough to get the astronauts out of bed and donning the orange flight suits they will wear during ascent and descent.
We worried that we wouldn’t be able to see the astronaut walkout this time because the sign-up sheet for press was filled before we arrived at KSC yesterday. At 6:30 a.m., Doug checked about the access for the walkout and just missed the last bus. The great KSC Media Escort team called for one more bus to take the nine of us stragglers over to see the last space shuttle astronauts in their suits. But the bus was stuck in traffic, and time slid away from us. Suddenly, the bus was in sight, but security had left, and we couldn’t board the bus until our gear was sniffed. As our watches slipped past 7:00 a.m., we started to give up hope. Then, security arrived, and we were off.
We caught a quite a glimpse of them before they go, so peruse our photos below. Then, check back later today for our view of and commentary about the launch or a bit of poetry.