Mary Robinette Kowal Profile picture
Aug 11, 2018 22 tweets 13 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
2am and the sky looks clear. Who's ready for a rocket launch?

Why is the Parker #SolarProbe launching at night?

Because during the day it would be too hot to visit the sun...

We've arrived at the causeway and the rocket looks AMAZING lit up across the water. We're about 2.5 miles away.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Make sure you follow #NASAsocial because my fellow attendees have much better night cameras than I do for the Parker #SolarProbe launch.
Tune into NASA tv to watch the launch of the Parker #SolarProbe!

One of the goals of the #SolarProbe is to understand space weather and begin to make predictions the way we predict terrestrial weather.

It will affect astronauts, yes, but also everyone who uses GPS, cell phones, radio, etc...

Launch is targeted at 3:53 am currently.

This will be the first time I've seen a night launch. When I saw the shuttle launch I was shocked at how *bright* it was.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Sensory details from waiting on the causeway. The shafts of light streaming up from the rocket. It's reflection in the water. The smell of bug spray. The growl of waiting buses.

Around me, the low hum of excited voices.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
We're listening to the echoing speakers that have NASAtv broadcasting onto the causeway and every time there's an update on the countdown, or the weather, we all pause. Heads tilt toward the speakers, but no one stops watching the rocket.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Above us, the sky is clear & even with the giant work lights, the stars are brighter & clearer than I ever see them in the city. Occasionally, I'll look up to enjoy them, but my eyes keep coming back down to the three Delta heavy rockets under the Parker #SolarProbe

Whenever someone says it's their first launch to a person who's seen one before, the person they are talking to lights up, knowing the joy in the future.

Then they say, "Watch with your eyes. Not the camera. For the HERE."

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
T-minus 10 minutes out from launch!

There will be a hold at t-minus 4, which is standard for every launch for last looks.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
They just did the poll of the launch stations. And good lord, the long pause before Ground said "Go" gave me a little a moment of terror.

Then we got to "No Go conditions BME-7." Folks here groaned.

They are going to report on what that means shortly.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
BME is Booster Main Engine. I'm not sure what 7 is in this context. Anyone from @ulalaunch (who I'm sure are all really tense) able to tell us what area they're concerned about?

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
35 minutes remaining in the launch window. If they can't resolve the problem within that window, they'll have to scrub.

Given the years of work sitting on the launch pad, and the fact that there is ONE chance to get it right...Err on the side of caution.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Maybe I should have told them about #marygoround before I applied for #NASAsocial...

Nah. I'm sure there's no correlation between that and the No-Go conditions.

They are doing a new poll. They've evaluated the ground data stream and have decided to proceed with the launch!

Go Parker #SolarProbe!

So, when I say they are doing a poll, what I mean is that each station reports on if their area of responsibility is ready for launch. Each station is supported by a team of people who are evaluating all the information in their area.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
They are doing the new poll, which will allow them to exit the t-minus for hold...

Comm hesitated and we all got tense.

"You have permission to launch."

Everyone here cheered!

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The count has resumed. Just so y'all know I'm going to abandon you for the launch itself and will report back afterwards.

Make sure you are watching NASA tv

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
We're holding at t-minus 1 minute 55 seconds. We have nine minutes remaining in tonight's window.

Everyone is dead quiet here.

They've reset the clock to 4 minutes and holding.

#NASASocial #SolarProbe
They are scrubbing and are beginning the power down. So they'll try again in 24 hours.

Excuse me, while I go reschedule my flight...

#NASASocial #SolarProbe

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @MaryRobinette

Aug 12, 2018
Good morning! Ready to try again for a rocket launch?

While you're waiting, remember that the Persiad meteor shower is also happening. You don't have to be in Florida to see it.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Granted, having written #thecalculatingstars there's a different resource to watching meteors while waiting for a rocket launch...

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Stargazing while waiting for launch.

By which I mean looking at stars through a telescope.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 13 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Many thanks to @torybruno for stopping and talking to us.

I asked what he was excited about and he said "watching this big beautiful rocket launch and set new speed records."


#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
This really is a beautiful rocket.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The other thing @torybruno said was that it was hard to get a sense of scale. He felt it most when he went to the top. It's essentially a 30 story building.

Looking over the edge is...vertiginous.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 4 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Heading until the 45th Space Wing

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The MOC was built to consolidate range control into one location. Prior to this, Each SLC had a blockhouse to serve as mission control for the launch. They were only 100 yards from the rocket.

It was not...ideal safety conditions.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Now there's a single location to provide weather advisories to Patrick, the Cape, and KSC.

Lightning is the primary concern. Florida is a lightning capital with the 3rd highest strikes worldwide.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 5 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Don't mind me. I'm just hanging out on launch pad 39-b

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The pad is covered with these metal tabs. They exist to bolt 3/4 ply to in order to cushion the concrete from the weight of the crawler.

On the road, they use gravel.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The "business end" of the flame suppression trench.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 10 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Learning more about the crawler from Dan Schultz, one of the drivers.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
The hard part is that of the VAB driver's job is that they can't see everything. Parts of the path are built at the max turning radius, which is 6° so they have to hit their marks very precisely.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
They have spotters that are about 20 feet ahead and the drivers rely on them for hitting their marks. There are 30 people involved in every move.

Driving it takes about 8 hours. Then there's loading and unloading, so 12-16 hour days are not uncommon.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 6 tweets
Aug 10, 2018
Good morning. I'm in the VAB. (vehicle assembly building) Any questions?

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
There are Apollo era parts of the VAB because they don't take anything apart without a reason. Disassembly costs money.

But when they do... The copper wire they pulled out of the VAB, when sold for scrap, paid for the fiber optics.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
They build full size "fit models" of everything to fake sure it will fit in the building.

The size of the VAB dictated the shuttle wing length. It had only 18 inches of clearance going through the doors.

#NASAsocial #SolarProbe
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!