Okay, now to Saturday, November 26th: Launch Day! Launch was scheduled for 10:02 am. We had to get to the Cape by 6:45 for the morning festivities. Plenty of activity and excitement in the air.
My group went to the media center where we got a demonstration of NASA's Eyes on the Solar System website. This site has really interesting visualization tools you can use to look at data from NASA missions. One of my favorite is recreating the flybys of various planets and moons by different missions. Definitely something I am going to spend a lot more time playing with.
We went back to the the twent where our special guests started showing up including astronaut Doug Wheelock (first astronaut to check in on foursquare from space and frequent space tweeter), Bill Nye and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. I joked it was getting hard to keep track of all the celebrities in the room.
And one more to come...will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas who is an advocate for science education. It looks like he may be tweeting!
Okay, only a few minutes from launch...
We all had out our cell phones listening to the final launch poll during the last hold at t-4 minutes. Heard nothing but "go, go, go, go, go!" during the poll. Promptly at 10:02am, liftoff!
The sound of the launch takes a while to reach us. It is not as loud as I would expect, but it is very deep and you can feel those low frequencies! It is very bright at that distance., that is just as surprising as the sound. It should be noted that we were several hundred yards closer than the VIPS who were watching from the media center!
I drove aross the state to visit my father. Stopped to see some manatees (in the wild) on the way there and finished the trip with a sunset and dinner on the beach with Venus and the crescent Moon hanging low in the western sky.
Can't really say enough about the trip. NASA does a super job with these tweetups and I can't thank them enough for the experience. They are planning more so I encourage you to apply if you can. Follow their twitter account or keep an eye on the tweetup web page.
Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.