Some of the overlooked ones

One of the services in WWII that is not known by many people is the Women Airforce Service Pilots. During WWII pilots were needed in Europe and the Pacific. And unlike the Soviet Union, women were not allowed in combat. Since every single male pilot was needed for the front lines, there was a real need for experienced pilots to ferry airplanes from place to place, both within the United States and abroad. In 1943 the WASPs were formed.

If you’ve never heard of them, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. During the war, they weren’t considered a part of the military, only an auxiliary, and received no military recognition or benefits. This is starting to change. There is now a WWII WASP museum located in Sweetwater, Texas. I plan on visiting it sometime.

One of the books that I read that helped to tell me about the WASPs and about the Mercury 13 is Amelia Earhart’s Daughters, The Wild and Glorious Story of American Women Aviators from World War II to the Dawn of the Space Age. This isn’t the most scholarly book, but it is a good place to start.

A year ago I got word about NASA tweetup

At the end of the work day on Sept 1, 2010, I got an email from NASA HQ. I had been seeing some tweets from folks about the NASA tweetup, but was not expecting anything. I had signed up for the NASA tweetup, but honestly I sign up for contests and mostly don’t win, so I figured it was a another contest to try but not win.

My mind was officially blown. I opened up the email and it said “Congratulations, you have been selected.” I came very, very close to sitting on the floor at that point. I read through the email, and re-read it. I was in shock.

Now its a year later. I have met some really incredible folks in the year between. Thank you NASA.

And now I have been given the opportunity to attend another NASAtweetup, this time for the GRAIL mission. I’ll be heading down early next week with several other people in town to speak to the mission specialists and watch the Delta II with the satellites launch. Woohoo! I have truly become a space geek.

STS-135 Atlantis has a tentative launch date

Its official. Space Shuttle Atlantis has a NET launch date of July 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM EDT. And NASA will be hosting one last space shuttle launch tweetup. Registration for the tweetup opens on June 1 at 12:00PM EDT and ends on June 2 at
12:00PM EDT, provided Endeavor’s landing doesn’t cause a delay. Double check with NASA’s website tweetup page to verify this when as it gets closer to the time.

Its the last shuttle launch. Ever. And until we get a new vehicle made, it’ll be the last launch of people for the USA.

Nasa Tweetup STS-133 v2.0 is on

Well, with NASA’s Flight Readiness Review (FRR) completed today, the team has given the go ahead for Discovery to launch next Thursday, February 24, at 4:50PM EST.

So NASATweetup v2.0 is on! The original tweetup participants from the fall are invited back to view the launch from the press site. So thanks to the goodwill of my husband, parents, in-laws, and boss, I’m headed back down to watch! Woohoo! No I’m not excited about this in the least, whatever made you think I would be. NOT! I’ve been trying very hard to keep from getting crazy about it, but now that its really immanent I’m allowing myself to get excited.

The launch will be shared online at NasaTV, Spaceflightnow, and hatcam will be live on ustream. Just make sure that you adjust for your local time. The shuttle is launching on Eastern Standard Time. I live in the Central Time Zone, so folks here need to remember that it’s at 3:50 PM. But its on and I’m going back!

Shuttle Launch no earlier than Dec 17th

And Discovery’s launch has been pushed back to a possible mid December launch to allow the team to figure out why those external tank stringers have have been cracking. She will fly, but it will be when she is safe to go.

I still don’t know if I will be able to attend, but if I can I will. I won’t purchase a ticket until they actually set a launch date. Its too uncertain to get that ticket until the NASA folks and engineers are more confident of the cause.

New Launch window and invite!

OMG! All the STS-133 Nasatweetup participants received an email today. If we still have our credentials, and can make it to Florida for the launch window November 30 – December 6th, we can watch the launch from the press site!!!!! Excuse me while I go a bit nuts for a little bit! Woohoo! Yipee! Hooray! W00t!

I do need to temper this a bit. I don’t know that I can take vacation for this. I used a week for the first launch window. And I cannot stay for the entire window. I already have a commitment for Dec 4th for my business. So I need to see several things before I can say that I’ll be able to go down for it. I want to go. I really want to go! But I have a number of duckies to get in a row before I can say that I can go.

Oooooh but if I can, I will!

Uploading pics from Nasatweetup

I’ve been uploading, organizing and tagging the pictures I took while out of town for the Tweetup. This is taking longer than I thought to get the pictures up and turned and tagged. I probably have between 250 and 300 400 pictures from the time I spent in Florida on the Space Coast.

In other space shuttle news, Nasa engineers are evaluating the damage that has been done to the foam on Discovery and the hydrogen leak at the ground umbilical carrier plate. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that they can fix it easily there on the launch pad. Hopefully they’ll have a plan of action by Wednesday.

Quick link to a photo

I just got a link to a 360 degree picture taken Friday after the scrub. Nasa brought out Robonaut 2A for demos, and one of their photographers got the remaining tweetup folks out to get a picture of us with R2. He had us get in a circle with R2 and the took pictures all the way around of us. It turned out very nicely! http://360vr.com/2010/11/05-nasa-tweetup_9198/

Launch delayed to Nov 30th

It was another emotionally whip sawed day. We got up at 6am to check our emails and tweetstreams to see what the launch control team was saying for the day. It was looking good at that time. The team was “Go” to fuel the main tanks, with a now 70% chance of good weather to launch. Hooray! So we got ready to go get breakfast and for the rest of the day. We picked up our breakfast vouchers and met up with @planetcomicon for diner food.

The diner, Sunrise Diner, had excellent food and we were very wound up for the day. After we ate, we got on the road to KSC for the program and launch.

As I was driving out, @otakuchick was watching the tweetstream and seeing all the groups’ excitement.

But as we were pulling into the media parking lot, we got the word that there appeared to be a hydrogen leak in the fueling system. Lots of bad news, that. We didn’t know if it was a rumor or good, so we were waiting on more official word. Which did come. We found out it was going to be at least a 48 hour delay, if not 72 hours. Stephanie was totally awesome and still managed to get a speaker to come out to us this morning. Astronaut Dan Tani, who first flew in 1998, and has flown on all 3 orbiters, as well as was stationed on the International Space Station. He was a very engaging speaker and was a great sport to come and speak with us tweeps.

After he finished up, I decided to check to see if I could change my flight home to today. Given that we knew it would take at least 20 hours to remove the hydrogen from the tanks before they could even begin to see what was up with the leak. Then it was probably going to be a very small chance that it could launch in that window on Sunday. I couldn’t stick around for a minutely possible Monday launch. So I decided to go home today.

After reluctantly leaving the tweetup area, we went back and checked out of our room. And let me tell you, the Luna Sea motel on A1A is awesome! I would go back there in a heartbeat, where I would skip the Titusville Days Inn in the future. I was able to get my flight changed to the last one back to Birmingham tonight.

So I’m now sitting in the Orlando Airport with others who are here waiting to go home to Birmingham, since our flight has been delayed 2 hours. At least I’ll be at home in my own bed tonight. I’ll get to see my kitties, too.

I can’t commend Nasa and our tweetup co-ordinator Stephanie Schierholz enough. Everyone who was with Nasa was incredibly helpful and gracious. In spite of all the delays, the entire tweetup staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty and delay to make sure that we who had traveled there from all over the world were taken care of by Nasa. Honestly, I would do this again in a heartbeat!

Weather delays and hotel shifts

When we heard heavy rain this morning as one of our roomates left at 5, we had a clue that it was coming. The 5:30 AM weather briefing pushed back the launch by approx. 24 hours to Friday at 3:09 PM eastern.

Our Nasa tweetup coordinator, Stephanie is awesome. The tweetup tent is still there, but the air conditioners for it had to be returned to the rental place. Of course, tomorrow is supposed to have a high of 69F, so I’m not concerned about needing an air conditioner. I’m ore concerned about needing a blanket! We have a speaker schedule starting at 9:30 AM.I really ought to be thinking about some relevant questions for our speakers, but I’m still just boggling that I’m here! We get to wave to the astronauts as they ride on their way to the shuttle. Wheee!

This is an uncertain proposition. We will find out at 6am how things are an if Nasa will continue to try to launch. There is a 60% chance of good weather for the launch.

But unfortunately we just got word on twitter that they have rolled the Rotating Service Structure back around Discovery. They haven’t said why. This doesn’t necessarily bode well for a launch tomorrow.

Hopefully a launch

Well, even though the weather isn’t the best, Nasa is going to re-start the countdown for launch on Thursday. There will be an evaluation of the weather conditions at 5:30am to see if it is safe to load the main tanks at 6:00am. If so, the countdown will continue. The weather still looks wet for the day, but if it is clear during the launch window they will light that bird up. I’m hopeful it will go, but have made additional arrangements if it doesn’t. Many of the Nasa tweetup folks have had to go home. I can wait a bit longer. But I do have to go back to work next week. Collectively our fingers are crossed for this tomorrow. Please wish Nasa luck for this!

Awww, another launch delay.

One of the difficulties of attending a space launch is delays. There are SO many different things that impact the ability of the shuttle to leave the earth’s gravity that any oddities in the testing of the systems. All of the redundant systems are tested to make sure that they are working. If a redundant system isn’t working on the ground, its just junk being hauled up.

That’s the problem. There are electrical problems/inconsistencies with components on one of the main engines on the shuttle itself. The Shuttle mission management team has now set the launch for Thursday at 3:39 pm. Unfortunately with the additional delay more folks are not able to make the launch. Not to mention lots of additional work and expense with all the delays for our tweetup coordinator. Stephanie Schierholz, the tweetup coordinator, has done an incredible job of dealing with changing schedules, and fluctuating attendees.

But it has been an incredible time so far. I have seen the shuttle from as close as they will allow people to view it. I have had the very rare opportunity to walk inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. I have visited the Saturn V center when all the other visitors weren’t there. We were driven alongside the runway on the taxiway where the shuttle lands. I have been Timmy’s personal photographer for the launch. It has been such an amazing experience for all of us.

I really want to be here when it flies. More than that, I want it to take off safely for the astronauts inside. If the mechanical items are good, and the anomalous readings are accounted for, the weather may delay things. The weather is only 30% good for a launch on Thursday. The next day that NASA will attempt a launch is Saturday. Friday is a rest day, since everyone involved has been on duty since before Monday. These folks will need to get a break. So no attempt will be made on Friday, but there are 2 more available windows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

I have some really incredible and awesome pictures on my camera to download. And I have been to some of the places where my father was when he was here in 1966 – 1970. I will stay through the Thursday attempt. I’d like to stay through Saturday. The weather possibilities are much better at that point. But it depends on the mechanical evaluation tomorrow. We will continue to keep our fingers crossed for the launch on Thursday.