With six hours to go before the launch of the final Space Shuttle we are well into the countdown the clock is ticking down at T-3:13:13 and counting. There are no issues being worked, and the only problem is the weather, this remains at 70% no-go.
Of course 70% no-go means 30% likelihood of favourble conditions at launch time. I have seen launches when there was a 90% no-go and the weather opened up just at the right time.
We are currently monitoring things the cloud coverage is still very heavy, but there are occasional breaks when stars can be seen twinkling in Space.
At 3:30am the rain had stopped as we left Titusville headed out on the 17 mile trip to the Kennedy Space Center, and amazingly the traffic was quite light as we drove in. Returning from the press site at 9:30 last night driving up Highway 1 S. Washington Ave there was little space left on the roadside for cars, but still lots of parking available over the other side of the street.
Yesterday was pretty manic we were on-site at 6am for remote camera placement for the second day running, and were fraught wit issues. The main one being the weather. A huge storm rolled in dumping a few inches of rain, accompanied by copious amounts of thunder and lightning.
In fact there was a scare when the lightning actually hit the launch pad. Fortunately the lightning protection system managed to do its job and there was no damage to either the Space Shuttle or the launch gantries.
We finally managed to complete our remote camera setup just as it was getting dark, and we had the opportunity to get some great shots of Atlantis lit by the xenon spotlitghts as it was poised for launch with the Rotating Service Structure removed.
Unfortunately for the final launch there was nobody out on the pad to record the opening of the Rotating Service Structure as we were under a phase 2 lightning warning, followed by a huge deluge which dampened the enthusiasm of even the most hardened hacks.
Whilst we all want the final Space Shuttle to take off on time we also want to get some historic views of the end of an era in space exploration. Go Atlantis!!!