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A NASA Tweetupdate December 9, 2010

Posted by craftlass in Discovery, NASA, NASAtweetup, SpaceTweeps.
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My last two posts were about the STS-133 NASA Tweetup. My two newest songs were inspired by it, with more rumbling around in my brain waiting to be properly distilled. In the meantime, all of us tweetuppers and launch chasers have been on a roller coaster ride of anticipation and disappointment as the dates for the launch keep moving.

I thought this would be a good time to give a little insight on what it’s like to be a space geek as I go through one of the harder parts of being one.

Here’s the thing: Space flight is difficult at the best of times. When things go wrong they can’t be overlooked, especially when there will be people onboard. The first thing on any real space geek’s mind is the safety of this crew of truly the best and brightest. We know the risks and we want NASA and everyone involved to do what is best for the mission. We don’t matter. What we want is not important. We know this.

Yet… yet…

This does affect us. Not just us, our family, friends, and co-workers. In some cases it impacts our ability to make money. I’m scared to make plans, book gigs. There is no way that Discovery is leaving on her final mission without me there to wave her off. It doesn’t matter how much it costs or what I have to do  to get there, I will be there. So, like everyone else in my position, I eagerly lap up crumbs of information when they become available and shift my plans as the dates change. I’m just lucky I’ve only burned through one set of plane tickets, for the December 3rd window.

Launch Timeline

10/31

Original first day of NASA Tweetup

11/1

Original launch date (delayed) (disregarding earlier dates, this was the first one after the tweetup was scheduled)

Actual first day of NASA Tweetup

11/2

Next launch attempt

Actual second day of NASA Tweetup (tours)

11/3

Next launch attempt (delayed)

11/5

Next launch attempt (scrubbed)

12/3

NET (No Earlier Than) date for launch attempt (delayed before it was fully confirmed)

12/17

NET date for launch attempt (delayed before it was fully confirmed)

2/3

Current NET date for launch attempt

Meanwhile, we’re surviving this time just like we survived the disappointment in Florida, together. Virtually, of course, which does have a disappointing lack of real hugs, but is essentially us going back to our usual thing only better, as we are connected to even more people. If planning  that trip and being together in Florida was the foundation of our friendship this time is the steel beams that let it become a skyscraper.

We’ve watched a Soyuz land and a few satellites launch together. We followed history in the making with the test flight of the Falcon 9 yesterday. We’ve discussed arsenic-loving “aliens” on Earth. We’ve been eagerly following the exploits of the Meteorite Men together (including my brief appearances in this week’s Wisconsin episdode). We’ve gasped with awe at the images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. We eagerly anticipate the Geminids meteor shower. We’ve debated the best spacey gifts for Christmas. We’ve learned more about how an external tank is made than most of us ever thought we would. Oh, we’ve had lots of distractions! Good ones, too.

Through it all, though, there is that undercurrent of anticipation for STS-133 still. Back before the first attempt, I was excited for the launch itself and the official tweetup events the most. This time, while launch is certainly a top priority, I’m most looking forward to seeing my new family.

We’re on round 3 of making plans together, re-forming houses, debating when is best to buy plane tickets and which airline will give us the best deals on changing them yet again, and trying to look forward while struggling to not let our emotions strangle us.

Me? I’m working on a lot of plans for February and beyond… all the while realizing that those plans may have to change with almost no notice.

You know what? It’s worth it.

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Comments»

1. Mike - December 9, 2010

I’m pulling for you! If we hit the 2/3 launch date, it’ll be a night launch (I haven’t seen one of those!). The “preferred” launch time is 12:34:28 am CST (1:34:28 Eastern)… assuming the ISS altitude plan doesn’t change.


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