April 29, 2011

Road Trip Endeavour-Day 8-Endeavour-failure to launch

Launch day -- the day our entire vacation was built around.  We were watching the weather all week. The Endeavour was scheduled to launch the last day of our vacay.  It was already rescheduled once, which is how we ended up getting the tickets.  We knew it was a risk and we were willing to take it.  But, obviously, we were hoping for a launch.  It was a pretty cloudy morning with a chance of rain. We were cautiously optimistic.  We were watching NASA TV during any and all down time in our hotel and it looked like it was a go.  We got there early, claimed our spot and set up our chairs.  We had a great view.  They said the weather would cooperate and not hinder the launch.  You could feel the excitement in the air.  They had a stage set up with former astronauts speaking about past missions and answering questions, mostly from kids.  We saw the Endeavour crew taking their final elevator ride, getting on the bus and heading to the launch pad.  We stayed there for while, then took a walk to get some food.  We weren't gone that long.  When we came back everyone was packing up and heading out.  We immediately felt the entire mood change.  Mission scrubbed, due to a technical issue.  There was some sort of electrical issue on one of the auxiliary power heaters.  Obviously, we were happy they caught it before something dangerous happened, but what a let down!  John & I were trying to stay calm and not let the kids know what a HUGE disappointment this was.  We decided to immediately divert and start having fun.  We only spent one day at Kennedy Space Center so far and barely scratched the surface.  

ready to see some history being made
astronaut speaking before the launch

building Lego space ships
The first thing we did was tour the Early Space Explorations exhibit.  It is full of artifacts from the Mercury and Gemini space programs.  Some of the stuff is so archaic looking it is amazing that it was actually manned and in space!  We've come a long way.  Then on to Lego building.  That sure did get those boys attention diverted.  After that we walked around the Rocket Garden. That's really cool, it is loaded with actual rockets that were launched in space and you can climb in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules.  Just being in them for a second makes you feel claustrophobic.  You're just constantly amazed at what the astronauts were willing to do to get up there.
nap time
Rocket Garden

inside an actual space capsule

Mercury Spacecraft-
I can't believe people actually squeezed in there!

the robot from "Lost in Space"
cooling off

Space Station 3D
this kid is a glasses hog!

They have two 3D Imax movies-Hubble and Space Station.  We already took them to see Hubble last year in Tennessee, so we did Space Station this time.  They loved it.  We also managed to work in some time for the children's play dome.  All in all, we has another great day at Kennedy Space Center.  Now we've had two full days and still haven't seen everything.  We would love to go back one day and see a rocket launch.  We were talking about how fun it would be to send the kids to space camp, too. 
So, between everything we've been hearing and checking our phones for updates it looks like the problem can be fixed within the small time window they have to launch in the next two days. The experts will be working on it all night and have a better answer tomorrow.  The Endeavour was already fired up, so they couldn't actually get to it until the long cooling off period was completed.  Since this is our last night in Florida, we have some decisions to make.  The first thing John did was call work to see if it was even possible to extend our vacation.  It was.  So, we grabbed dinner, headed back to the hotel and started making some calls.  Our hotel was booked, but we managed to get a beach front on Cocoa Beach.  We used to go to Cocoa a lot when I was younger.  I love it there.  It's still a pretty big gamble though, since they still haven't fully assessed the situation and I'm sure there will be a lot more testing.  We decided the worst that could happen was having a couple extra days in Florida in April.  How could you go wrong with that?
big granite ball by the play dome
making a NASA dog tag for Lucky
We saw this mama & her two babies in the
parking lot on the way out!

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