Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Endeavor, Day 4, May 1, 2011

Today was a day that was never supposed to happen. In the ideal world, we would have launched Friday and this story would have ended Saturday with me back home giving the kids their space presents.

This is my third launch viewing attempt and only one of the three has gone according to plan. The launch of Atlantis on STS-132 while I was at the NASA Tweetup went as scheduled. The other 2 have had major delays. These are the consequences for not inviting me back to the subsequent Tweetup events. That or human space flight is risky business and this is just how it goes.

The day started with me watching the various news feeds to see what was going to happen. There was a press conference scheduled for 10:30am but I was hoping to find out more sooner so I could make plans to get home. By 9:30am it was clear they were not launching on Monday so I put a flight on hold to head home Sunday afternoon. 

By 9:4am the story changed again. The 10:30am press conference had been shifted to early afternoon and they were not going to announce another no-earlier-than launch attempt date until tomorrow. I knew I could go home as the likely hood of a launch anytime this week was slim.

I grabbed the last seat on an AirTran non-stop flight to IND and packed up to head back to the airport. One of the many gambles on a shuttle launch trip are the ground costs and as you know Thrifty car rental has been a bit screwy. I got a great rate; I paid $8.96 a day to drive a Premium car. The catch is that if you return it early they charge you a $15 fee. They don’t charge you for the days you don’t use but they do charge you a stupid $15 early return fee. While I still saved a ton of money I did return my rental car early and paid the fee. All part of the risky business of attempting to view humans launching into space on rockets.

Getting home was a milestone of sorts as it was my last flight on AirTran. Our captain welcomed us to Indianapolis, told us the current temperature was 20 degrees, Celsius, and then said he would normally invite us back on another AirTran flight however starting tomorrow AirTran becomes Southwest. AirTran has always been good to me.

I’ll be watching the news from Kennedy Space Center closely and we’ll see how things turn out.

To be continued, I’m sure……..