Christer Fuglesang’s newsletter: launch rehearsal
Houston, 8 August 2009. Back in Houston, after three exciting days in Florida. We flew there in formation with the T-38s on Wednesday morning. A fine flight! Our approach was over KSC and we veered out over the launch pad where Discovery is standing.
After landing we were swept off to a succession of reviews and practical exercises that culminated on Friday with the launch rehearsal, the TCDT (Terminal Countdown Test).
But we had some free time too. On Wednesday evening I actually managed to get to Cocoa Beach and meet up with a whole bunch of friends (who hadn’t previously met each other). They had made their minds up already in spring to travel to Florida on holiday during this week, in the hope that our launch date would be as scheduled on around 6 August. Such was not to be, but they are having fun in Florida and it was fun for me to be able to see them. When it is time for the actual launch I will be in quarantine and can’t go out to meet friends.
The preparations to get Discovery in order are going according to plan and the goal is to be ready to launch on 24 August. It isn’t out of the question that everyone works so efficiently that in the end we could launch on 23 August. But a lot can happen and NASA’s PR section, for example, seems to believe it will be August 25, which you can find mentioned in different places. But there are many who are still concerned about the possibility of pieces of insulation falling off the tank.
In particular there hasn’t been an explanation found yet for the large piece that fell from a ramp on the last flight. Added to this, the majority of the tests that have been carried out have been done on other sites. It is quite possible that a decision could be taken to replace our tank, which would delay our launch by several weeks, probably some way into October. There is a meeting on Tuesday that might settle the matter.
It is also uncertain how large our launch window at the end of August is, but it should probably extend until 31 August and perhaps a few days beyond if we give up some of the tasks we were scheduled to carry out during the flight. Unfortunately that means that the third spacewalk would then be abandoned.
As I mentioned last time, I have started twittering: www.twitter.com/Cfuglesang and very soon afterwards the Twitter site stopped functioning. I don’t really believe that these two events had anything to do with each other however.
View the slides showing images from the TCDT , Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test: open slideshow