Thursday, May 20, 2010

Launch Day Golden Ticket

On launch day at the NASA Tweetup I got up and left a bit earlier than I did the day before anticipating some heavier than normal traffic on the way to the Kennedy Space Center. They told us they were expecting 30,000 people on site for the launch so I wanted to make sure I got to the twent in plenty of time. I also knew there would be some extra security but I wasn’t sure how much.

14 miles from Gate 2 traffic ground to a halt. It took me an hour to go the next 5 miles. Since I had left early I was doing ok for time but I didn’t know if traffic was going to be this heavy all the way to the press site or not.

The first security checkpoint was a temporary one being manned by the Florida State Police near the Astronaut Hall of Fame. I was amazed at how many vehicles were turned back. Talk about waiting in line for hours for nothing. At that checkpoint, you had to have a ticket for the KSC Visitors Center or for the Hall of Fame in order to proceed. If you didn’t have that you were turned back. I pulled up, showed my credentials, and was waved through onto the NASA Causeway, after the officer called me a ‘tweeter’. Traffic on the Causeway was normal so I was back to driving the speed limit. Yeah, I know, I know.

The next checkpoint was at the KSC Visitors Center. Again, I showed my golden ticket and kept going.

The third checkpoint was the Gate 2 badging station, there I had to show my credentials and a photo ID but was again waived through onto the Space Center.

The final checkpoint was at the press site. Here again I had to show my photo ID and my credentials but I was granted access and headed to the parking area.

I’m glad I left early, even though the traffic added an hour I still go there in time for a schedule change. In order to accommodate NASA’s Deputy Administrator coming to talk to us they moved the group photo at the countdown clock from 10am to 9:40am. Wouldn’t want to have missed that!