Thursday 18th June 2009 was no ordinary day for me…
The suspense and excitement was already starting to build as I got to my desk right after dinner. The internet was all a-Twitter about the launch of the LRO/LCROSS mission. As the reports started coming on of pre-launch going well and ‘tanking’ was beginning. Then came news that the weather was likely to go ‘RED’ in the area during the launch. Thunderstorms were moving near and that could scotch the whole launch program. Lets face it, you don’t want to mess around with that much Liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen in a steel flask in the middle of a lightning field! The good news was tanking completed successfully and they could hold for a later launch slot. As it was they picked the latest possible one, 5:32pm EDT. Everyone held their breath. You could feel the suspense even through the tweets. It went quiet. You could tell everyone was willing the clouds away and the weather to pickup. Maybe we did it between us or maybe Mother Nature was just smiling on Cape Canaveral that day. The message popped up in my stream:
WEATHER IS GREEN! GO FOR LRO/LCROSS LAUNCH! @5:32 pm EDT
That’s all we needed to know. The launch was a go. As you could feel the anticipation beforehand and the tension during the weather hold, you could now feel from the tweets with caps and exclamation marks the relief and excitement as everyone again look towards the 5:32pm launch window.
The next part was exciting for me more than almost anyone else watching. In the UK we don’t get NASA TV piped to cable. I know NASA TV broadcasts over the internet and has for some time but for one reason or another I’ve never watched a live launch before. I expected the ground pictures, I expected the commentary, and I expected the glorious sight of the lift off. What I didn’t expect was the onboard pictures as the Atlas V with LRO/LCROSS aboard soared high into the atmosphere and underwent the separation of the first rocket stage and the shedding of it’s payload fairing. All I can say is ‘Wow.’
But when you are watching all this unfold on Twitter it doesn’t stop there! Almost immediately after the launch people started posting picture links of the launch, some of which were absolutely stunning!
Twitter and NASA TV served up a meal fit for a king to me that evening and I can’t wait for the next sitting! I’m still amazed at how the emotion of the event actually comes across through the tweets. Who’d have thought you could do all that inside 140 characters. Amazing stuff from some amazing people!