Launch Day and 99 Red Balloons

This is Andy and me in front of Delta IV in the 4-2 configuration.

This is Andy and me in front of Delta IV in the 4-2 configuration.

Those who regularly read the blog, know that I am married to a Rocket-guy named Andy.  He’s Director of Commercial and Missile Defense Rocket Motors for ATK.  For my birthday this week I met him in Cocoa Beach to see his industry in action. A Rocket is launching.  This launch is for a GPS Satellite.

During the day we got to see the rocket up close, Andy and the PR director Trina explained the rocket boosters, component parts and some of the structures were all made by ATK.  There was a nervous excitement in the air.

Some of the reporters at this prep time were reporting for news stations, some for educational and industry science websites others seemed more like students of Science Fiction trying to extract vocabulary for the next issue of their graphic novel.  But everyone was excited to be part of the launch.

The tower backs away from the rocket that stands over 200 feet high.

you can see the edge of the tower on the right side of the photo almost out of the frame.

you can see the edge of the tower on the right side of the photo almost out of the frame.

Photographers scurry and we all look up in awe at the majesty.   The Rocket represents  a billion dollars invested by over 100 companies and thousands of people who bring this dream to the physical monument before us.  It’s just huge – people on the mechanical scaffolding look like insects as they prepare for launch.

Next they fill the tanks with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

These are the Liquid Hydrogen and Oxogen tanks.  It looks like my house could fit inside one of these tanks 3 times!

These are the Liquid Hydrogen and Oxogen tanks. It looks like my house could fit inside one of these tanks 3 times!

They have to complete that fueling process with no lightening and we’re in Florida where storms are eminent.

We, the reporters, leave for the afternoon storm and hope the evening skies clear.

They fill some balloons with lighter than air gas, the balloons carry weather instruments to report back about winds, and if the clouds are too dense they can’t get the data back about the winds.  You’d think these clever people who defy the laws of gravity could get past a balloon failure, right?  I asked a first ever asked space question, what color are the balloons?  The engineers had to ask around and found out that they were off white, so I sent them a link to 99 Red Balloons.  CLICK > 

But the balloons can’t manage the weather and the launch is Scrubbed (that means cancelled) for the night.  They must remove the liquid Hydrogen and Oxogen, but it is okay they can remove the fuel and refill the rocket tanks 3 times.   Everyone is deflated (balloon pun intended) this moment but since tomorrow the weather looks 90 percent good, we’re all very hopeful the launch window is set for 8:08pm tomorrow.