Christer Fuglesang's newsletter: Discovery on the launch pad – Twitter time!
Houston, 4 August 2009 After a delay of slightly more than twenty four hours, and a number of difficulties along the way, Discovery has reached Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. I hope she can remain there until our take off, hopefully within three weeks.
The road that the super tractor uses between the assembly hall VAB and the pad was wet after an earlier rainstorm and at one time the crew feared that the tractor would risk getting stuck. Considering the fact that the whole shebang weighs about 7500 tonnes it's not quite the same as being stuck in a muddy field with a car. They talked about returning to the VAB, but by driving on the side of the road where the ground was somewhat firmer they were able to reach the launch pad in the end.
This apparently means that we can in principle launch on the 23rd, although the 25th is the most talked-about date. Small problems turn up all the time which means that an extra day could easily be needed to fix problems that may occur. The last problem was a valve on the solid fuel tank, and maybe they'll have to replace a unit. Anyway, tomorrow we fly to Florida to do the TCDT exercise.
Our last exercise in the Space Shuttle simulator with the whole crew is ongoing. We practise undocking from the ISS, where my part is to manage the docking system. I've now done my bit, so while Kevin is flying around the Station I can take care of my email correspondence. When we do this for real however I'll be glued to the windows, taking photos and enjoying the view.
Finally it's time to get to grips with Twitter. I sent the first couple of tweets earlier today as a test and so far so good. Please go to www.twitter.com/Cfuglesang to follow what is going on.
During the simulation I took the opportunity to practise with the camera we have aboard, a Nikon DX2s. These pictures are taken with a ‘close-up zoom’ lens 12–24 mm that I've zoomed out maximally.