3 am, media center parking lot. The parking lot has filled again. We are parked in the front row and four buses have arrived to take those who wish to go out to the astronaut dormitory. The Astronauts will walk out and onto the van to carry them to the pad at a scheduled 5:11 am.The arrival of the buses awakes me. It is good news. It means the mission is still on, and that the shuttle has been fueled while I slept. It means the Astronauts are still scheduled to launch this morning. We are on a three hour built-in hold. Actual launch is slightly less than six hours from now.
3:15 am media center. Filling up, but nothing like the April 29 launch. In the parking lot we have met friend and fellow journalist Jim Siegel who reports for the Celebration Independent. He took his chances and left after the RSS yesterday. He had no trouble returning to the Cape — little traffic and no line at the security gate.
Carol Anne has dithered, but has now decided to go to the Astronaut walkout. Security check is 3:45 am and the buses head out at 4 am. The coffee truck has arrived — we go over to get some coffee. The coffee again has no coffee.3:30 am media center. I check on the weather. Candrea K. Thomas, public affairs officer, tells me — still a 30-percent chance of weather problems. Only challenges appear to be some crosswinds. I ask her about chances of an aditional tour of several NASA facilities. Cheerfully, she says she’ll start a list “send me an email” and if I’m around on Tuesday, she’ll see what she can do. I immediately send her an email, then walk back over and tell her it has been sent.
3:45 am. The cafeteria. I have debated whether it is worth the five-minute walk across the street to the cafeteria for coffee. I finally give in and head over. This place, too, is empty. Where is everybody? The cafeteria opened at 1 am “but business has been very light” the cashier tells me. We both agree that many fewer people are returning for the second attempt to launch the Endeavor.
Good news — the cafeteria brews Starbucks. I mainline a couple of swigs of coffee as I walk back and, whoa, finally my headlights come fully on and I am awake.5:45 am media center. Carol Anne has returned from shooting the Astronauts loading onto the van. She has emailed me using her iPhone a half hour earlier that it is freezing out there. She checks through the media cventer and then heads for the car to go back to sleep. She will re-surface in another hour.
6:30 am Tweetup area. I go looking again for the Tweeters and have finally found them scattered in several bleachers and in chairs. They were allowed in to watch the RSS Sunday morning, and then allowed back into the media center Sunday evening. I find one of the several Tweeters who actually was here before. Supposedly, once you have been here, you are now allowed back, but because Tweeters sometimes cancel too late for NASA to replace them, they invite other Tweeters who have already cleared security. The rules that I have been told, and the experience of this second-time Tweeter don’t quite match, but no matter.
The enthusiasm of the Tweeters is impossible to undermine.
No tent? Who cares!Their tables are gone? Who needs tables?
No air conditioning? Who needs it with this kind of weather.
Eighty of the original 150 Tweeters here on the scrubbed April 29 launch are back and their good spirits and elan are undiminished. Allowing them to see the RSS Sunday morning was a major hit, and for them an unexpected surprise.
7:40 am media center. Carol Anne has moved to our workspace in the annex after a large round table I staked out earlier in the morning has filled up. Internet in the main media center is sagging, probably due to everybody being on it.
She asks me where I’m going to watch the launch. “The mound.”
Where you watch the launch really doesn’t much matter — it’s hard to miss when the shuttle launches. We’ve even photographed it from our second story porch in Celebration, FL, forty miles away.
7:44 am media center. The launch clock reads 21 minutes 39 seconds. To actual launch, with the upcoming built-in holds, launch is now 74 minutes away. Here we go.
Following launch, one hour later, is the post-launch press conference, about the time the shuttle will be passing overhead on its first orbit.
If Endeavour launches this morning, we’ll be back at the Cape before 7 am Tuesday morning for the rollover of the shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) from the orbiter processing facility (OPF = the hangar) to the vehicle assembly building (VAB). This will be the final rollover ever, and the beginning of the final launch in the shuttle program.
…. post launch preconferences on gabby giffords and on launch, block house jack king …. coming 1250pm