Friday, March 7, 2014

The Weekend Already?

Oh, well....been pretty busy at work getting ready for the next launch.

The customer finished fueling the satellite today (UDMH) after spending Monday and Tuesday putting the oxidizer (NTO) into it. They take a one day break to clean all the equipment, and make sure the lines are purged.

While they were busy doing those tasks, we've been checking out our telemetry equipment, and some other radio links we use to allow the customer to command and monitor their satellite.

Next week things will really start rolling, as once they've completely fueled and checked out their bird, it will get "floated" from the fueling bay to the encapsulation bay where it will get tested again, and then "encapsulated" into the payload fairing, or "Nose Cone" for all the civvies out there. Then we do the final RF testing, and it gets rolled over to the ACS to get mated to the Launch Vehicle.

After some more testing, and a full-on live data flow from end-to-end going through NASA's TDRSS satellites, it gets transferred over to the Launch Platform.

After some more testing, it get rolled out, erected, and a full-on "dry" (unfueled) countdown takes place, usually a very long day. This is when we make our final adjustments, and the customer runs all their pre-flight tests. Except for fueling the Launch Vehicle, and running our RF systems at reduced power, this is the real thing. If anything goes wrong, it has to be fixed before we leave. Things usually go well, but it still winds up being a 12~14 hour day.

The last launch we did with this customer was a real Charlie Foxtrot, as they didn't follow the script we gave them, they took off for dinner without telling us ( ! ), and I wound up being there 18 hours. NOT a fun day!

If all goes well, the platform stands down for a day, and then sets off to the launch site. The command ship follows four days later, and for this one I'll be on the dock wishing them a "Bon Voyage".

I'll be a tiny bit sad not going on this, my "last" launch, but I don't want to take ANY chances with my health. If I were to have another cardiac episode, it would be a MINIMUM of 36 hours before I could be in a hospital, but more likely it would be 72+ hours. I've been on missions where we had some seriously sick people, and I know how long it takes to get somebody to a "Full Service" hospital.

No thanks, but I can do without that particular uncertainty!


  1. You're doing the right thing.

  2. +1 on Jeffro... Your health is more important than any launch...

  3. I have my quarterly Doctor's appointment on Monday, and knowing my Doctor, I'm sure he'll agree with me.

    The HR "department" (it's outsourced, and she only comes in once a week!) has already told me the final decision is mine, and that if I chose not to go, they "can't hold it against me", whatever that means....


Keep it civil, please....