Would you get out of bed at 2 AM for a rocket launch?
That’s what we did last night. United Launch Alliance sent a communications satellite into orbit at 1:55 AM EST. The launch window opened at 12:50 AM but was delayed twice due to high winds at upper altitudes, so we got up at 12:30 AM and waited … and waited …
Click Here to watch video of the launch. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch. This was filmed from our driveway in north Merritt Island, about five miles from the Kennedy Space Center south gate.
As always, a reminder that sounds travels slower than light, which is why you don’t hear the roar of the engines until nearly a minute later.
If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been writing about six former Angels minor leaguers in a new circuit called the Florida Winter Baseball League.
Skeptics, including me, didn’t think the league would last long, but we never anticipated it would fold after only fifteen games.
As expertly covered by Mark DeCotis of Florida Today, the first paychecks bounced, and the league suspended operations.
I was asked by Central Florida News 13, the local cable TV station, to do a standup interview about the league folding. Why? Because I’m around and everyone else is gone.
Click Here to watch the news segments as they appeared throughout the evening. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection to watch.
I’m writing more about this on my other site, SpaceCoastBaseball.com, so head over there if you’re interested.
I may be doing a piece for the local paper too. I’ll post that link if/when it’s published.
Regarding the screaming kid in the background … Some parents turned loose their two-year old to play on the rocks down by the river. A couple minutes before launch, he throws his toy dump truck into the river, and as it floats away he starts screaming that he lost his dump truck. Being a two-year old, of course, nothing is going to make him happy, not even after someone fished out his dump truck. He kept screaming all the way through the launch. Gee, thanks.
A reminder when you watch the video that the speed of sound is roughly 1,100 feet per second. If you time from the moment of launch until you first hear the roar of the engines, we’re roughly about 10-12 miles from the launch pad.
You’ll also notice a tall crane between the pad and the Vehicle Assembly Building. That’s for a new platform that will one day carry Constellation to the launch pad. The future of Constellation, however, is up in the air, no pun intended.
An unmanned rocket was supposed to launch on November 14 but had a last-minute glitch, so it was rolled back to its assembly building. No ETA on that one.
Click Here to watch the Ares I-X launch. You need Windows Media Player and a broadband (cable modem, DSL) Internet connection.
The weather was once again a factor as NASA tried to launch the Ares I-X. Because this is a test flight, NASA was concerned about a phenomenon that can cause clouds to reflect radio signals to and from the craft. Not only might they lose valuable data, but a self-destruct message might be lost too, which would be a bad day in my neighborhood should Ares be headed in my direction.
With 30 minutes left in today’s launch window, the weather people found a gap in the clouds long enough for Ares to launch. Click here to read CNN’s report on the launch. The video on that page is a NASA compilation, including a camera mounted on the craft’s fuselage.
The above video is shot from my driveway, looking northeast towards Kennedy Space Center and Pad 39-B. You’ll note that the rocket sound doesn’t reach us until nearly a minute after launch; because sounds travels at about one mile every five seconds, that tells you I’m about 12 miles away from 39-B. But less than two minutes into the recording, it gets pretty loud. The house windows were rattling; it reminded me of a minor earthquake back in California.
My “A” camcorder is out for repair, so I had to use an older one with less quality. I lost track of the rocket right after launch because the view finder isn’t all that great. But you get the idea.
Ares 1-X on Pad 39-B awaiting launch tomorrow morning. STS-129 is on Pad 39-A in the background. The Delta and Atlas rocket pads are in the distance. Photo courtesy NASA.
I wrote on Thursday about the historical significance of two different spacecraft on the Shuttle launch pads.
I suspected NASA would have someone take a photo showing both craft, and sure enough it showed up online today.
Ares 1-X is supposed to launch tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8 AM EDT with a four-hour launch window, but there’s only a 40% chance of acceptable weather.
I hope to go out and videotape it, but I’ve been sick with a mild case of the flu since Saturday. If they launch, and if I film it, I’ll post it here as I’ve posted previous launches since arriving in Florida.
STS-129 with Atlantis on Pad 39-A
The Ares 1-X rocket on Pad 39-B.
For the first and quite probably the last time, two different spacecraft currently sit on launch pads at Kennedy Space Center.
Pad 39-A currently hosts STS-129, scheduled for launch on November 16.
Pad 39-B has the Ares 1-X test rocket, scheduled for launch on October 27.
Ares is the next-generation vehicle planned to replace the Space Shuttle, which is scheduled for retirement by the end of 2010. It’s a return to the Apollo-era technology, a capsule atop a rocket.
Pads 39-A and 39-B were once identical, but 39-B was partially deconstructed to accommodate the Ares test flight. After 1-X launches, the rest of the structure will be demolished and a new gantry will be built.
You’ll notice that the lightning rod at 39-A is atop the gantry, while over at 39-B it’s been removed and three new towers have been built nearby to draw away lightning from the vehicle.
I shot these photos today from an observation tower halfway between the two sites, less than three miles away. The Kennedy Space Center bus tour takes you to the tower, where you get a magnificent view of all the significant structures on base.
Just to the east of the observation site is the intersection where the road splits to go to Pads A and B. Below is a photo of the intersection, along with a sign displaying the message, “Ares 1-X Welcome to Pad B.” How friendly.
Choose your departure point — Pad A or Pad B.
RHP Baron Short
OF Stantrel Smith
RHP Anthony Sullivan
As previously mentioned, out here in Florida they’re starting a new professional winter baseball league, appropriately called the Florida Winter Baseball League.
The local team is the Space Coast Surge, playing in Cocoa Expo Stadium, which was the Houston Astros’ spring training complex from 1964 through 1984.
The Surge players reported Sunday, and the next day they met for the first time. I was asked to do their head shots which you can see by clicking here.
Five former Angels minor leaguers have been signed by the league. All five played for Tom Kotchman’s Orem Owlz at one time.
Three are here with the Surge — Stantrel Smith, Baron Short and Anthony Sullivan.
The other two, Trevor Pippin and Tyler Johnson, are in Miami with the Diamantes.
A league official said to me yesterday, “So do you like all the Angels we sent you?”
I asked him to send Pip and T.J. to Cocoa too, but he said they have to spread the wealth. Oh well.
Anyway, the three seemed happy to see each other again, familiar faces in unfamiliar territory, and to have me around as a sort of Jiminy Cricket who already knows the area.
Baseball has an amazing ability to create families …