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A tour of Atlantis and the launch pad - SpacePod 2011.06.07

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Jason Rhian: Alright, Jason Rhian, Spacevidcast sleepy roving KSC reporter. Ben, you're going to have to forgive me on this one. They wouldn't allow tripods in. So, it is what it is. I'll try to get you the best shot I can. Take a look at what I'm seeing. Alright space fans, I'd love to put this over the side to show you Atlantis hanging. However that's a big no-no. Because I don't have any kind of straps or attachments, so I'm going to have to kind of just show you what we're seeing right now as Atlantis is being hoisted on this huge crane to get mounted with that. What I've done, is I've tried to go down to one side so I can give you a shot of Atlantis being lifted up to be mated with the ET but not violate the rule of leaning over so there's no risk of anything falling on the orbiter itself. I'm here with Jon McBride. Jon you flew on ... Jon: Challenger! The thirteenth flight of the shuttle series. Jason: That was when? What year? Jon: 1984 Jason: So you've followed the program along all this time? Jon: I came to NASA three years before the first flight back in 1981 so I guess you could call me a dinosaur of the space shuttle program. Jason: Let me ask you a question. You're watching the last orbiter get ready to leave to the launch pad. I hate to put you on the spot, but what are you thinking, what are you feeling right now? Jon: It's kind of ... very mixed emotions today. You know, you're very excited to finally see it roll out here. We always like to see roll-outs, we like to see launches. But when you're here for the very last one, it's a little bit different, this kind of nostalgia you get. Thinking that in thirty years now, space shuttle flying is coming to an end. This is it. This will be the last one no matter what. So it's kind of a mixed-emotions day. Jason: Even though you're not going to get a chance to go behind the stick, you're still planning to put her up and make sure she looks beautiful right? You guys have got big plans for Atlantis. Bill Moore: Yeah, we have a great display planned, we have to work through the engineering side of it. And get all the sign-offs from Boeing and all the different folks that support and know the shuttle better than we do. But, assuming that all that goes well, which I'm sure it will, we'll put her in flight and show her in a way that none of us has ever seen it. Jason: Last time I was here I made sure to hit both decks. This time I decided to stay on the lower level. It was well worth it. You get more of the total effect, as it were. An amazing experience. Lot of people coming out to see this. Buses are packed, it's an incredible experience. It's really awe-inspiring. It's really, as Lloyd said, it's history! Alright Spacevidcast fans, welcome to launch complex 39A. Down below you see Space Shuttle Atlantis being prepared for the final flight of the shuttle program. It's insane. I finally get the opportunity to come out here and check this out and well look, we've got weather coming in and we're in a Stage 1 weather warning. So, I don't know folks how much I'm going to be able to get for you, but I'm going to try to get as much as I can while I'm here, so that I can show you some of the goodness of this final flight of Atlantis. "There's the Yellow Brick Road." Jason: Look, there it is. The yellow brick road where the astronauts go onto ... Someone: Only to the doorline right? Guide: Correct. Jason: Okay, we're going to hold here just a second but then we're going to try to take the camcorder up. And this is basically where the astronauts go in. I'm going to go in with the camcorder. So if you look down that way, that is the white room leading to the orbiter. So, we can't go there. We're not qualified yet, so there's that. No Spacevidcast fans, that is not the sound of the water suppression system. That is mother nature crying for the end of the shuttle program. It is coming down in buckets, Our tour is officially over! Hey! We're back in the van. Here's Robert, he's had better days. Robert: Hi guys! Jason: Chris is up front. We're all in the van, we're all drenched. Soaked. "Hasn't rained in six years and the day we come out here it's a hurricane!" Jason: Yup. Jenny's up there sporting the wet look. We're all doused. It was ... It was amazing. It was intense, and it was brief. And now we're gone. Robert: You look perfect, all the water droplets are beading up on the top of your head ... Jason: It's the baldness brother, it's the baldness.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 42 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 64
Posted by: spacevidcast on Jun 8, 2011

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER Fla. - As the end of the shuttle program fast approaches it seems that the pace of events taking place at the space center have reached a fever pitch. Just a week after Atlantis was rolled from her OPF to the VAB and then lifted into the air and mated to the last External Tank - the next STS-135 milestone took place - rollout. As with the 24 period around rollover, rollout would also prove to be frenetic.
Within a thirteen-hour period Kennedy Space Center saw the final rollout of the shuttle program as Atlantis headed to Launch Complex 39A, the final landing of space shuttle Endeavour as well as Endeavour's tow back to her OPF. However for members of the media this was just the start of the day.
Atlantis' rollout kicked off around 8 p.m. EDT with the lumbering crawler-transporter carrying its precious cargo out to the pad at a blistering mile an hour. Workers and their families formed a precession that escorted the venerable orbiter to her date with history. The crew of the final shuttle mission was all on hand as well and conducted interviews across from the Vehicle Assembly.
The press either hunkered down or went to go get something to eat before Commander Mark Kelly and the crew of STS-134, Pilot Greg Johnson and Mission Specialists Greg Chamitoff, Mike Fincke, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori landed Endeavour one last time.
For photojournalists present the night landing wasn't what they were waiting for. The orbiters are towed back to their OPFs and photographers are allowed to shoot images as the shuttle moves by. Most want to get a shot of the shuttle as it passes by a small pond along the route providing for beautiful reflection shots.
NASA also has what is known as a "Sunrise Photo Opportunity" where reporters are taken out to periphery of the launch pad and shoot video and pictures.
I had to leave a little early and returned to my hotel room to begin uploading video and images as well as file stories. I skipped being at KSC for the landing as; in all honesty, there really isn't much I can do. Having covered the sunrise opportunity on a number of occasions I passed on this as well. I was waiting for what I've dubbed "Sunrise Photo Op - on Steroids."
Whereas with the sunrise event takes you at the base of the launch pad, for this tour you go onto the pad itself, and are taken to various destinations on LC39A, in short, you get to walk in the footsteps of the astronauts themselves. However, if you have a fear of heights - one should not go on this tour. To add to the drama a storm blew in dousing the pad with rain and sending photographers scrambling to save their equipment.
Most (myself included) of the journalists that attended this were honored to be allowed to be included on this historical event. On the way back one photographer mumbled and grumbled about how bad it was and how he felt cheated due to the rushed nature caused by the weather. I held my tongue, but was glad when another journalist looked at him and asked him point blank, "Are you high?"
The pace takes its toll. The changing and odd hours mean little sleep, a lot of junk food and stress. A couple key themes have emerged as this period unfolds, you will get the common expressions of irritation - until the media has the opportunity to see what they have collected - and then that frustration turns to joy. But one theme although not openly stated is openly acknowledged - this must be done - history is taking place and we must chronicle it. What we are living now - is just the storm before the calm.
The tour of the launch pad was short, but some of the interviews, lift and mate as well as rollout has additional content that hit the cutting room floor. Sign up for Spacevidcast epic today for your chance to see exclusive footage only for members as well as industry interviews and additional tours. Spacevidcast epic helps us pay for the show and keeps the great content coming. Entertain your inner space geek and sign up today -- http://www.spacevidcast.com/epic

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