Posts Tagged ‘tweeters’

Atlantis covered by the RSS at Pad 39-A, dawn, July 6, 2011.

Wednesday was briefing day. From 8:15 am to 7 pm the media was offered briefings on everything from how NASA is studying air traffic control, running high tech medical experiments on the International Space Station, planning to place an innovative device on the ISS to re-fuel satellites and much more.

The day concluded with visits to SpaceX’s launch pad, hangar and firing room. SpaceX hopes to be allowed to re-supply the ISS beginning later in 2011, and by 2014 hopes to be running a manned space program. NASA is helping with contracts, by making available an old Titan launch pad and finding buildings near the entrance to Patrick Air Force Base for its firing room.

The media has arrived. By Wednesday the media site was jammed, straining its air conditioning. Outside, displays from companies were scattered in tents.

Tweeters will be back (Thursday, July 7), and so will their tent, grandstand and even that faux spacesuit that they can stand inside and have their pictures taken. All had vanished after the first attempt to launch STS-134 failed on April 29, 2011.

Everything was in place to go — except questions about the weather.

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NASA list of best viewing sites to watch shuttle launches HERE
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8:45am, Orlando. I am on my way back to the coast and the Cape with plenty of time to make the 10 am briefing. And I would have had I not stopped to grab a fast food breakfast and to snap the picture at the left. What I didn’t figure were cars running as fast as possible up to the guard gate and cutting into line. Or the drawbridge being up for the second straight day on the Causeway — what are the chances of that?

10 am, media site. Preparations are underway in the parking lot for the influx of TV vans. Crews are laying yellow protectors for car to drive over, and cables to be tucked under. Today it is no kidding — there’s no close in parking and the lot for the TV vans is clear. I burro all my stuff into the media site.

10:05 am, press conference. Okay I’m late, but not serially late. Lots of re-visiting about the mechanicals that scrubbed the April 29 launch and whether the real cause has been found, or ever will be. Sounds to me like the answer is “never will be” but maybe is more “who cares” since everything seems to be working fine now.

Weather is 70-percent go on Monday morning’s launch, but there’s weather to be eyed on Sunday. If it doesn’t do what NASA thinks it will do, maybe the launch will be scrubbed again. The weather on Tuesday in only 60-percent chance, but Wednesday, if the launch is delayed that long, is a rosy 80-percent. On the other hand that is five days away. Still — these guys are awfully good at predicting weather.

Next press conference? Saturday, 4 pm.

Crowds. Will there be an estimated 700,000 people back on Monday for the launch? Probably not — probably coser to 500,000 since it is a weekday and a mid-morning launch (roughly 9 am).

The 10 am briefing was lightly attended with some, but not a lot of questions asked. Perhaps the biggest issue was answered in the briefing before the questions: Will the weather be okay for Monday's launch? So far, so good..

Tweeters. The Tweeter mystery has been solved. They will be back, albeit with truncated hours. They get to come back Sunday afternoon, and they have to leave after the Monday morning launch.

If the launch is delayed a second time, that’s it. Tweeters only get two bites of the apple — there’s no third-launch-opportunity for these 150 guys.

But where’s their tent? And their tables? And … Gone. All gone.

This time the Tweeters get to sit in bleachers. “That’s where most of them sat last time anyway.” — Hmmm.

“And, anyway! — last time they showed up with all kinds of stuff, including their own umbrellas.” Sort of like high tech beduoins? “Yes.” And the sun won’t get them? “No.” — Hmmm.

Will Tweeters be invited for STS-135, the final launch now scheduled for no earlier than June 28, 2011? “We’ll see.” The Tweeters bring along 150 additional cars for the parking lot, and if you think STS-134 is crowded (1,500 media), you ain’t seen nothing yet in terms of the media likely to show up for STS-135 and the shuttle’s swan song.

Still, it sort of sounded like Tweeters will be tweeting here come the STS-135 launch.
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“petecrow / NASA” is copyright © by Seine/Harbour® Productions, Studio City, California, and by Peter M Crow and the Peter Michael Crow Trust

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NASA list of best viewing sites to watch the upcoming shuttle launch is HERE

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Dawn. Four days to launch of the second to last shuttle mission, STS-134 using the Endeavour orbiter, officially known as OV-105.

Endeavour is the newest and last member of the five shuttle fleet rolling out of the factory in Palmdale, CA in April 1991. Three shuttles survive. Endeavour was built to replace Challenger, the workhorse of the shuttle fleet, that was lost shortly after liftoff in 1986.

Weather looks surprisingly good, but that should be taken with a grain of salt. The launch is 96 hours away. That “70-percent chance” of launchable weather is an educated guess, but a guess. Moreover, it is May in Florida now — and May precedes the start of the hurricane season in June.

7:25 am, Celebration (Orlando/Kissimmee), Florida. I have decided to come to the Cape this morning to look around and see what’s up. The press media site opened again at 7 am this morning for the first time since the launch was scratched on Aril 29. The site will remain open from now through the landing — assuming Endeavour is launched without another prolonged delay.

I decided to ignore the signs saying to park in the over-flow lot, and then decided to just park in the front row right by the steps up to the media center. Very convenient. So, unnn, where is my car? (... actually it is in the second row)

8:05 am, Not surprisingly, the 417 and then the Beachline highway 528, are mostly empty.

How empty?

Only two tailgaters the entire way over to the Cape and only one guy who roars past me doing 100 mph on his way to his afterlife.

The Beachline is a chute — for thirty or so miles there are almost no exits. It is the most efficient road in central Florida so it is no surprise that the highway department is busy putting in more exits on the Beachline. Soon it will be a parking lot like everything else around here — and the tolls will go up.

As I drive along I think, I sure wish I owned a toll road.

8:10 am, I detour onto the I-95 and go to Titusville to have breakfast. OMG, a bus is in the parking lot of McDonald’s. Jeech! Every table except one is teeming with children. But wait — I order and am handed my breakfast and, moments later, everybody except me heads for the bus.

I’m tempted.

They sure look like a nice group and I’m figuring they are heading over to the space museum. Problem is if I climb on the bus with them, I’ll probably be noticed since I’m not black.

The first time I covered a launch at the Cape a guy sat out in the weeds on top of a coaxial cable junction box hoping nobody would kick it and thereby kick all communications of the launch to the outside world off line. Times have changed.

8:50 am, I coast to a stop as the drawbridge stop light turns red and the gate starts down. I turn the car off and climb out.

A guy and his wife from South Africa are in the next car and he climbs out as soon as I do. “Is it legal for us to get out of our cars?” he asks. I tell him the police will be waiting for him on the other side of the drawbridge. He and his wife exchange glances, then realize I’m a crackpot.

We become instant, 10-minute friends.

9:15 am, I park in the media center parking lot following arrows and abiding by the rules, but then decide — screw this — and move my car into one of the best places on the lot.

As I head for the media center, now mere steps away, I look around trying to remember what this place was like when I first came here in December 1972 for the last Moon mission (Apollo 17). They’ve built a lot and that grandstand I reported from is long gone. Mostly I can figure out what was where, but I finally decide to dig out my 1972 pictures and shoot new pictures from the same angles.

Yeah. That ought to do it.

Then I really look around.

The Tweeters. Uh-oh. The Tweeter tent is gone. The whole thing and everything in it — the chairs and the tables and that astronaut suit you could climb up into and have you picture taken as if you, too, were an astronaut. It is now just an open stretch of bad sandy no grass land as if those 150 tweeters never ever existed.

Okay. Well, maybe they’re going to put the tent up for them again later today.

Get a grip.

The tweeters are toast.

9:20 am, media center. Most of the other reporters and photographers are out at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF = the runway) where the astronauts and their families are returning again from Houston. I have purposely arrived late and am missing it.

NASA Public Affairs officer directing the media toward the front of the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 27, 2011. As the shuttle program ends NASA is making all sort of sites available to the media including the shuttle hangars (known as the Oribter Processing Facilities or OPFs) and closer up looks at the landing field, a launch pad, and other places.

This is not a problem — I have photographed astronauts arriving several times before, and Carol Anne got the current crew’s first arrival on April 27.

She also got a pretty good case of sunburn and a case of dustmite from ingesting too much blowing crud out there. “It was hot out,” she grumbled upon returning. It was her first time photographing a crew arrival.

Well, of course, I tried to look sad and compassionate about it all, but fact is, I watched the crew arrival from the air conditioned media center and, if anything, had my own problems: it was a tad chilly in the media center that morning, although with a long sleeve shirt on, I was okay, thank you. But I kept most of that to myself.

9:30 am, Media Center. I ask about the weather and a woman says “I’m printing it now.” Can she give me a preview? “I haven’t read it myself,” she says, handing me a copy hot off the copier. “Don’t burn your fingers,” she says.

10:30 am, Media Center. The real reason I’m here today is to find out what’s coming, and to do that you sometimes have to hang around, watch and listen. Eventually I track down a woman I had visited with over in the OPF (shuttle hangar) last month and I confirm a few upcoming events I am interested in and she explains how they’re going to be handled.

Tweeter bleachers, but no Tweet tent and no Tweeters. Will they be back or are they gone forever? Tune in tomorrow.

11:00 am, I go over to what is left of the Tweeter site and look around. All that is left, for now at least, is a red parking cone and a few empty trash cans with fresh liners. I consider empty trash cans with fresh liners a good sign. I return to the media center, parched and head for the free Boeing water cooler. Empty. Soon Boeing will be handing out free water, but not yet. I fill up my empty McDonald’s coffee cup at the water cooler and drain it. Then I fill it again.

Noon, the guys who covered the astronaut’s arrival are back. One guy more or less staggers by me and says to someone else “I’m drained.” She says, “it’s pretty early in the day to be drained,” and I start thinking about how Carol Anne looked when she got back from the SLF a couple of weeks ago after photographing the arrival of the astronauts.

The Boeing Water Cooler from which one of NASA's prime contractors plies the press with chilled free water. But today the well is dry. Maybe tomorrow? A not-so-secret thing about the media is that they are chronic moochers.

12:30 pm, finishing up various projects and ready to wrap it up here for the day. Place is quiet. I have moved from my work space in the annex over and moved into a space assigned to Airplanista Magazine. Soon enough one of the NASA staff comes by putting down fresh sheets designated who gets what space. “Can I come home from the annex?” I ask. “Are you re-assigning?”


“Everybody is staying put, and that means you-in-the-annex.”

Okay. Got it.

And with that, it is time to find some food and clear out until tomorrow.

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UPDATES directly from NASA
use these links:

news on STS-134 from NASA web site is HERE


news on STS-135 from NASA web site is HERE

“petecrow / NASA” is copyright © 2011 by Seine/Harbour® Productions, LLC, Studio City, California, and by Peter Michael Crow and The Peter Michael Crow Trust.

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news on STS-134 from NASA web site is HERE

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