Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Space Shuttle Launch STS-127 Scrubbed Again

We came back to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for another all nighter to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour for mission STS-127 shortly after 6am. The launch time became earlier for each day delayed. The mission is to go to the International Space Station (ISS) to add a section on the Japanese Kibo laboratory. The launch time is scheduled to insert the space shuttle into an orbit to rendezvous with the ISS.

When we arrived at KSC we saw a lot of people sleeping in cars, campers, and tents in the parking lot. The doors to the Visitor Center were locked and a crowd of people was waiting to get in. We met a guy from New Jersey who had his Blackberry plugged into an outlet in the wall. His Dad was reminding him that it might rain again and that he should be careful not to walk away with his Blackberry still plugged in. The New Jersey Kid rolled his eyes and said, "Dad, I know I'm plugged in, and it's not raining anymore." Dad replied, "It's just that walking off with something plugged into the wall is something I might do." The New Jersey Kid was checking for news on Twitter. He was getting Tweets about the launch from SpaceFlightNow. I had set up my phone to get text Tweets from NASAKennedy and Astro_127 (Mission Commander Mark Polansky) but hadn't gotten any messages yet. The New Jersey Kid said that they had not yet started fueling the space shuttle. We waited, checked phones for news, and texted friends on their way to KSC. The fueling process began, but a hydrogen leak was detected. The leak was determined to be within safety parameters, fueling continued, and they opened the doors to the Visitor Center. We all poured into KSC in anticipation of seeing the shuttle launch at dawn.

The place was buzzing with people, music, and kids hopping around in space suits when an announcement came over the PA, "May we have your attention please..." The mission was scrubbed again. The hydrogen leak went beyond safety limits. The crowd sighed a collective "Awww..." and we all drove home.

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