Finishing the pre-launch briefings in Houston, and having flown the shuttle simulators on July 1, Carol Anne and I flew back to Orlando Saturday morning, July 2, leaving our car near Johnson Space Center in a hotel parking lot.
Guests for the 4th of July were arriving.
On Monday morning, we set out for the Cape to get our press credentials for the STS-135 mission. KSC has two badging offices, one on the causeway, and another on State Route 3. I had guessed that they would be badging on the causeway. Wrong. With 2,400 media already accredited, and more coming all the time, NASA badging at the Route 3 media office. Probably smart given the volume of credentials.The office was open only a couple of hours on the 4th of July, so we arrived early expecting little activitiy. Wrong again. The office was busy, although within a few minutes we had been badged and were on our way.
At the press site, there were also a number of people milling around. Tents were set up, and displays were being erected. This was the final mission and lots of contractors were going to politick the large amount of media who were showing up.
I walked through and picked up the briefing paperwork, was told there was a 60-percent chance of launching on Friday, and checked in to see whether I wuld be given access to certain area during the launch. I got a non-committal answer. “I’ll make that decision about two hours before launch.” He smiled. I smiled. That usually means I’m in — but given the crush this time, I might not be.
By early afternoon we were back to Celebration, and in the evening watching fireworks and dining with friends. The evening would be the last quiet time we are likely to have for several weeks.The countdown clock starts tomorrrow (July 5: L-3). There are two briefings Tuesday, July 5, 2011, in the morning and at noon, and then, Wednesday, an entire day of briefings starting at 8 am.
If the shuttle goes on Friday morning, July 8 — and it won’t, I’m certain — I fly back to Houston and will cover the mission from there until shortly before landing. Then I fly back to Florida, watch the landing, and fly back to Houston that evening where I’ll cover the astronauts arrival home and have been promised access to the JSC Mission Control Center.
Hopefully, it’ll all be over shortly before the end of the month, and I’ll be on to other endeavors.