I moved to Florida last week and have experienced heat that would make the devil sweat, cockroaches the size of cats, and I’ve paid enough money in tolls to offset the national debt. But one of the best things about moving to Florida is that I now live an hour away from Cape Canaveral. I’ve been planning to make the drive to the coast with my kids so we can witness the launch in person. I mean, it’s the end of an era; the last shuttle launch, and I was prepared to battle the other half million spectators estimated to make their way to the Space Coast tomorrow for a prime viewing location.
But as I sit here, looking out my window at the rain that’s been falling nonstop since about 3:00, I’m not sure the launch is going to go as planned tomorrow at 11:26 a.m. According to NASA, there’s a 70% chance the launch will be delayed tomorrow due to bad weather. If the launch is scrubbed, the odds for a Saturday 11:02 a.m. launch don’t look much better as the stormy weather will likely be sticking around. But that’s okay. If the launch is postponed until Sunday morning at 10:38 a.m., it’ll give the over 7000 NASA employees who will be losing their jobs a couple more days.
Whichever day the shuttle Atlantis launches, it’ll carry a small, four-member crew consisting of commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Their mission will be to deliver the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and its 8,200 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. Atlantis will also be hauling the “Robotic Refueling Mission” device, designed to let astronauts on the space station test tools and techniques that might one day lead to the robotic refueling of and recharging of satellites.
Will you be watching this historic last launch in person or on TV?