LAUNCH DAY! 9/18, 10:50 a.m. -->10:58 a.m.
Antares Launch day! As I pulled up to the gate at the NASA Visitor's Center, I immediately observed a controlled area. We
were told where to park. NASA dogs were working securing buses and checking people as well as their belongings. Once cleared, all media boarded buses, and were transported to the media viewing area 2 miles from The Antares launch pad. There were tents and stands awaiting the media flurry of picture/videotaping and writing. The air was filled with excitement as everyone moved to claim their vantage point. I moved out onto the field and setup my chair, my Macbook Pro, readied my Ipad & Iphone, had a towel to toss over my head to block out light on the computer screen allowing my up to the minute Tweets! As soon as I opened Twitter, I noticed I had a direct message from my friend, John Gardi, The Tinker. He shared a link with me (SpaceFlightNow) http://spaceflightnow.com/antares/cots1/countdowntimeline.html
This allowed me to Tweet real time technical launch updates. My heart was racing as the launch neared. Within 45 minutes of launch officials were working to clear residents from within their homes considered in the danger zone. As they monitor data they look at conditions that could cause windows to blow out due to the blast zone. Once all was clear and safe to proceed the green code was given. This changed the launch time from 10:50 a.m. to 10:58.
(1432 GMT (10:32 a.m. EDT)
The Wallops Range is now green after officials evacuated four homes near the Antares launch pad. This was to avoid a safety issue due to a concern the blast from the launch could damage public buildings.)
At 10:45 a.m., I had my Ipad in hand and began a live launch Skype with the students back at my school...Hershey Middle School. It was very cool sharing this experience with students! They were over the moon about viewing the launch! With my Ipad in one hand and my camera in video mode in my other hand, technology would document the event the world was watching together! We counted down...5, 4, 3, 2, 1--ignition!!! Antares rumbled and with a slow, powerful, steady ascent she was on her way as she accelerated near the speed of sound! My students commented as I raised the Ipad upward towards the sun that it looked like the rocket went into the sun! Soon all that was visible was the trail left behind. Speakers blasted updates of the rocket's performance as we listened intently since Antares was now out of sight! We cheered as we heard...
1506 GMT (11:06 a.m. EDT)
Antares is in orbit! The Castor 30A upper stage motor shut down on time and has reached orbit. Deployment of the 9,000-pound Cygnus cargo craft occurs at about T+plus 10 minutes.
Antares continued and at 11:08 Cygnus separation occurred! She would reach the ISS early Sunday morning. It is a great day for NASA and Orbital! It is a great day for the future of space exploration!
NASA Safety Check Complete...
PRE-LAUNCH DAY! 9/17, NASA Wallops Visitor Center & NASA Flight Facility
8:00 a.m. arrived at NASA Wallops Visitor Center
Checked in. Badged and toured Visitor Center.
Day 1 of 2 begins as I become a NASA Social-citizen journalist. I arrived at the NASA Wallops Visitor's Center. It is a small place filled with space exploration history and NASA TV live broadcasting. After looking around at the exhibits, I stopped in the gift shop and purchased a commemorative Antares t-shirt to proudly wear commemorating this once in a lifetime experience. Upon showing my credentials I received my press pass and a swag bag filled with a plethora of informational cards, posters, and even an Antares model -that I heard was meant for VIP's and we were fortunate to receive! We soon were brought into the auditorium where we met our NASA Deputy Social Media Manager, Jason Townsend. He apprised us of the day's agenda and we participated in a meet and greet session. Soon we boarded the bus and were on our way to the NASA Flight Facility to view Antares positioned and ready on her launch pad! We were filled with anticipation and excitement as we grasped our mobile devices and camera equipment!
NASA Flight Facility- Antares Launch Pad & Horizontal Integration Facility
NASA Social Antares Citizen journalists 2013
Antares Launch Pad:
When we arrived at the Antares launch pad viewing area, we were met by experts that shared rocket specifics and mission information. As you can see in the group photo above and Antares seen behind us, this was the closest we were allowed to get to the live rocket for safety reasons, 800 feet away, due to it being fueled with hydrazine. Dale K. Nash, Executive Director, Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, talked about use of balloon data and how it can show if there is a clear path for the launch to proceed. He explained that it needs to be clear below 6,000 feet and a 25% cloud layer. Another expert Mike Laidley, Orbital's Program Director for Antares, explained the mission. It is a combined effort by public (NASA) and private (Orbital) efforts and money. This very large unmanned rocket is carrying the largest amount of cargo to date to the ISS (International Space Station), 1500 lbs./700 kg. which includes replenishment supplies, care packages for the astronauts/cosmonauts, and even student projects. Once the rocket launches it reaches speeds of 10,000 mph and will take approximately 4 days to reach the ISS. Upon arrival, a robotic arm will be used to grabble it. Following a series of tests and sealing it will be opened and the cargo removed. The empty spacecraft will be filled with ISS trash. When released, most will burn up and It was stated that less than 25% will reenter our atmosphere and fall into the South Pacific Ocean.
Horizontal Integration Facility:
Next stop on the tour was the Horizontal Integration Facility. We were told to leave all mobile devices on the bus, we were however allowed to bring cameras and take video. This enormous building houses all of the rocket parts awaiting integration or assembly of the rocket horizontally. Once put together or integrated the rocket is transported to the launch pad and placed vertically readying for launch. We were brought to each part of the rocket's system and an expert explained in detail its role and technical importance. My brain could barely wrap around all of the information shared. It was fascinating. A highlight I found especially interesting is that some areas on the rocket have explosives which are for safety reasons. If for any reason at any time the mission would need to be aborted mission control could flip a switch and blow the rocket up! Mission control as the rocket is monitored, has the ability to control its every move by pushing thrusters--buttons.
Wide shot of stage 1 and Stage 2. Engine
Ring laying in between stages is what is coated with explosives
Carl E. Walz, Astronaut shares story about his time on ISS.
Pre-Launch Press Conference:
Lindenmoyer--inspires young people...his passion is contagious!View video at 54:44 to see the question I had an opportunity to ask Alan
NASA Social Media privileges were a rush. Each day, pre-launch and post-launch there was a live press conference televised on NASA Television. The NASA & Orbital project leaders shared their critical information and slides and or videos. This was followed by a question and answer period, also televised, for the media . The traditional media asked questions first. I was seated an arms length away from a Reuters representative. Twitter followers also had a couple of questions answered, and NASA Social Media, which is what I represented, had their 15 minutes of fame! I was 1 of 3 who were selected to introduce myself and ask a question of the esteemed panel. I asked, We have lots of students following on social media, as the program moves forward, my question is-What is your message to young people? Alan Lindenmoyer fielded the question and his message was quite inspirational! He stated, "My message to young people is, I hope it is as inspiring as it is now as it was to me when I was young because watching these amazing achievements certainly captured my interest and I hope what you are seeing today is something that will stick with you and encourage you to keep studying, working on your math and science and all the skills necessary to keep the space station-program going -it is really an amazing field!"
Antares Rocket Launch date changed to Wed., Sept. 18th!
There following was shared with me...
Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., has confirmed it will postpone by at least 24 hours the launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. The new launch window is targeted forWednesday, Sept. 18 between10:50 to 11:05 a.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at Wallops. Rendezvous with the space station remains scheduled forSunday, Sept. 22.
The postponement is due to a combination of Friday’s poor weather, which delayed roll-out of Antares to the launch pad, and a technical issue identified during a combined systems test held Friday nightinvolving communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer. The problem has been identified and corrected. The teams are working to understand why the problem occurred.
For the latest information about the launch and mission, and updated briefing and NASA Television coverage times, visit:http://www.nasa.gov/orbital.