LADEE Launch Recap Part 2: Out to the Launch Pad!

After our morning briefing, we took a break for lunch. When we came back, we went in for the Pre-Launch briefing:

Afterward, we were treated to a presentation on our understanding of the Moon by LADEE Project Scientist Dr. Sarah Noble. ┬áThe presentation was conducted at the NASA Visitors’ Center at Wallops Flight Facility in a Science on a Sphere exhibit. This was my first experience with one of these devices and it is really quite amazing. Essentially, a sphere is suspended from the ceiling in the middle of a room. A projector in each corner displays 1/4 of the image onto the sphere, combining to create a full “3D” image of whatever sphere-shaped object you’re looking at, in our case, the Moon:

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I want one of these

Even better, the system was able to demonstrate LRO topography data:

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LRO topography data

We then took a break and I did a little shopping in the gift shop. As it turned out, they were giving away free LADEE-branded Moon Pies:

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Of course it’s vegan: It doesn’t contain any actual food of any kind

And during the break, I got to say hello once again to well-known Hubble Hugger John Grunsfeld:

Me and John Grunsfeld
Meeting one of my heroes

Then it was back to the briefing room, this time for the science briefing:

Mom alert: At the 18:00 mark, I ask a question about the predicted count rate.

With the briefings concluded, it was time for a trip to the launch pad itself. The team from Orbital Sciences were finishing up some Hazardous Operations (HazOps) when we arrived. All rockets have explosives on board to blow up the vehicle in case something goes wrong. However, the crews install inhibitors to prevent an accidental detonation of the vehicle while they’re working on it. At L-1 days, these inhibitors are removed and the vehicle is fully armed. The crew were completing this process just as we arrived. As a result, we had to keep our cell phones in Airplane mode so we wouldn’t set the thing off and incinerate the vehicle (and ourselves along with it.)

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Holy Mackrel! Photo by Tom Wolf

And that was just the first day.

PS: You can find my entire set of LADEE launc photos on Flickr

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