Fourth Servicing Mission to HST (SM4) Page 5

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Launch Parties

The days leading up to the launch was time for many parties.
The first family party was organized by Dr. Ed Cheng, and took place
at the Astronaut Hall of Fame.  It was a great evening with food and fun,
and took place on Saturday 5/9/9.

Jan Poets returned from Aruba for the launch.  Here, he interviews
Frank "Cepi" Cepollina, who is my boss.  They are in front of one
of the astronaut trainers used for the previous mission.
This was at a public outreach event the day before launch.
It was a lot of fun, and excitement was everywhere.

The next day, there were as many as three simultaneous parties,
including this one by Ball Aerospace.

This was the official Hubble Launch Party.

We met Bruce McCandless, who was one of the astronauts to release
Hubble, and the one to first test fly the MMU (Mobile Maneuvering Unit).


Poets returned to KSC to film the launch, and we were extremely well
treated by Mary Anne Chevalier.  One of his write-ups is here.

On launch day, we gathered at 9:30am at the Holiday Inn to catch the bus to our assigned launch viewing site.  There were 20 buses with 55 people each.  We were on bus Infinity!

On the bus for the launch.

There was a launch clock set up near our spot.
We were here, 6.7 miles away per Google.

It was a very warm day, and we found some shade in the corner of one of the
public tents.  Many did not have shade, and were quite hot.
Stephanie wrote "Go Shuttle" on her arm.

This was shot with my camera at full zoom and using a pair of good
binoculars.  You can see the full pad including the MLP stands.
The view is straight down the Orbiter tail.  Not a great image,
but I shot it myself  8-).

This is from one of the HST photographers, Chris Gunn.  He was standing on top of the VAB, and had a great view.

It has been 7 years since I saw a Shuttle launch, and it is just amazing!
We had a good view from the Causeway, and we were looking straight down the tail of the Orbiter.  We could see the entire stack, including the MLP, and the flame trench.
Upon ignition, you only see the big white cloud of exhaust, but slowly the Shuttle rises above it.  Then, the exhaust flames come into view as a super BRIGHT flash.  The crowd erupts with this reveal with spontaneous emotion and cheering.  The Shuttle continues to climb silently and steadily with a bright red rooster tail.
Once the Shuttle is about 40 degrees in elevation, the sound finally hits you.  It is like a raucous, rattle that shakes your body.  From 6 miles away, you can sense its POWER.  The main engines and the solids shall not be denied.
Unexpectedly, I shed major tears.  I will never see my WFC3 instrument again.  I feel like a parent sending his child into the world to do its intended thing, never to see it again.  I worked on this instrument for 8 years.  I know every connector, cable, box, pin and wire tie.
My last Shuttle mission, and I shall miss KSC, the Shuttle, and everything about it.
My observations of the launch.

   Mission Ops at the Johnson Space Center

In front of the Full Fuselage Trainer.  It is an important teaching tool for the astronaut crew.

Inside one of the Space Station Trainers.  Here I am in front of the "Robo"
station.  This is where the Station robots are operated.

My tour guide was one of my pinball buddies, Adam Mendoza.  Here he
stands in front of the Shuttle Motion Base Simulator.  It moves a
simulator of the flight deck with six hydraulic actuators.

In the Blue Flight Control Room at the Johnson Space Center.  This is where the HST
project is housed during the on-orbit operations of SM-4.
Click here for a panorama (by Ross Henry).
See here for an official NASA photo of this room.
Story in Diario (local paper in Aruba).

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(c) 2009, Edward Cheung, all rights reserved.