Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Headed Home......

Price of satellite: $60,000,000

Price of Launch Vehicle: $20,000,000

Cost to operate two ships at sea: $1,000,000/day

Price of launch: $95,000,000

Empty hangar on Launch Platform and scorched deck from liftoff: PRICELESS

Should be home on the 11th, and I'll be taking a few days off to clean all the guns, and then hit the pistol range and rifle range with my son. We'll definitely go to Angeles Shooting Range *before* the Christmas break, as the place is just NUTSO crowded between Christmas and New Year's.

They "deferred" our Thanksgiving holiday, and we get two "bonus days" for going on the launch.

I'll be "working" on the Saturday Sunday before we get back so I can "flex" my schedule to take those two days off during the week, and with taking a couple of more days out of my vacation account, I'll be off until the Christmas break, so I won't have to be back until AFTER the New Year.

And I've already started making up my "List Of Things I'll Miss About Working Here" that I'll post about after I retire.


  1. Smooth sailing on the way home, and watch out for "Channel Fever", that last night. It's not as easy to recover from an all-nighter as it used to be ... for some reason. ;^)

  2. When Mrs. Graybeard worked on the KSC, she'd have to be on base at any time of day to support launches and sit around all day on standby. Just in case they need you. Because when you're rolling up about $95 Million dollars for a mission, not having a person there just in case you need them is just plain stupid.

    Of course, there was that day when they launched into the base of a developing thunderstorm and lost the vehicle, just as a science facility at the other end of the cape was launching rockets into it to draw lightning strikes for study. That was not quite as smart.

    Have a safe and boring trip home!

    SiGraybeard @ work

  3. Yep, launching expensive payloads on expensive rockets is not something you take lightly!

    Our operation is quite a bit different than working at the Cape. What we bring with us is ALL we have to work with, both people and equipment. I've fixed things with "bailing wire and duct tape" to get a launch off on time, as bringing one home, and then dragging it back out here, is horrendously expensive.

    It's happened twice so far. The first time was a customer caused event, where somebody hit the big red ABORT button about two seconds before L-0. The rupture discs popped, the engines got wet, and to this day nobody fully understands why they didn't fire. The customer back stateside was using an out-of-date printout, comparing it to real-time data, and made a very costly decision. We not only brought that one back, but had to send the launch vehicle back to the factory to refurb the engines.

    The other one we brought back was caused by a medical emergency topped by deteriorating weather. The launch platform got critically low on fuel, so they dumped the LOX, and headed for Hawaii, then back home. The next time we went out, the had had two huge generator sets bolted down to the deck to supply additional power for the engines (the boat id Diesel electric) so they could run all the launch support equipment AND have enough reserve power to buck the subsurface currents that tend to drag the platform around when it's ballasted down 60'.

    Our being so small, and having relatively modest land-based facilities, gives us a cost advantage which we pass along as lower launch costs, but the new owners cut back to the bone coming out of Chapter 11.

    And it's starting to show......


Keep it civil, please....