Friday, August 30, 2013


We have a GO for launch! Yes...the spacecraft is away now, beginning it's life in orbit. I can't even begin to tell you how happy and relieved a LOT of us are. We get our lives back! Well...almost. Turns out I was counting my chickens before the eggs hatched. I hadn't counted on being sucked back into the mix of the de-install of all the equipment at our payload processing facility and the pad itsself. I figured there was enough of the 'normal' group of people to make that happen, and I could get back to my day job. That is not the case. Yesterday (Thursday, the day after launch) was the hardest day yet as we franticly pulled miles of cables from the pad, getting it all ready to ship away to the spacecraft factory who it all belongs to.

But hey...that's such a downer...instead I choose today to focus on the good. The successful launch of NROL-65 (that's the official designator we use for the launch). All of the pictures below are compliments of (I have only one picture from my location, it will be the last shot).

Here is the view of the rocket/spacecraft still in the MST. This was my view multiple times every day for the last many weeks, as I walked across from left to right to get to the stairwell going up.

 This is the area that I lived at these many weeks...the areas of the tower where the spacecraft lives.
This begins at level 16 (but they don't count the lower 2 levels, so it's actually the 18th floor).

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning as the Mobile Service tower has rolled away, leaving the rocket standing on the pad connected to the Umbilical Tower (UT). 

 And we have ignition! The large plume of fire is the free hydrogen gas that has been vented off the three boosters. The engine on the starboard (right-most) rocket lit at T-7 seconds in an attempt to burn off all this hydrogen gas (and suck it down as it gets roaring) and the middle/left engines fire at T-2 seconds. At this time the white payload air duct is still connected to the fairing/spacecraft (connected on the left side of the fairing, on the opposite side of the giant mission decal).

And we have liftoff! You can see the payload air duct flinging away as the umbilical arms swing away from the rocket as it clears the pad. You can also see the scorching on the orange boosters from the hydrogen cloud.

And the rocket has cleared the umbilical tower in a blaze of fire!

This is a nice picture showing both halves of the MST just as the rocket has lifted above them. 

She's a real beauty in flight! You can still see some of the insulation is still burning in-between the middle and right rockets down near the engine nozzles.

And here she's really picking up some speed, heading away on it's course to orbit.

And this is my picture. The rockets have stopped with the exhaust plume..but you can still see three small glow-spots from the main engines. I was lucky enough to catch it in the same frame as the moon. Goodbye to our's been a long haul but we made it. Live long and prosper!

And that about wraps up the launch. Hopefully soon now we will have all the post-launch work done and I will be able to resume my LIFE! I think I had 2 bike rides in the last month, and that's very unsatisfactory! I hope to ride at least TWICE this weekend (YES, I get ALL THREE DAYS OFF...Woo-HOO!) And the weather is actually cooperating for a change...nice weather today and all thru the weekend forecast. I can hardly believe it! I'm giddy with the thought of THREE DAYS a ROW!

And's hoping you have an awesome Labor Day weekend...the un-official end of summer. Get out there and do something FUN! And be safe!



  1. GREAT pictures Matt, Definitely going to share with the kidletts. Hope you have some great rides and the wind stays home. But I have a bone to pick....

    Decals, decals, decals...there's got to be a spot for FatCyclist somewhere. When's your 'last day'?

    Enjoy the weekend and keep the rubber down.

    1. Hey David..I can't claim any of the pictures...that kind of photography takes special (ie: EXPENSIVE) cameras..AND pad access for your camera which I do NOT have. It's actually gotten HOT today...HERE! ON BASE! That happens around 2 or 3 times a year! I guess the winds have shifted and are pulling the air off of the Mojave. Doing a road ride w/ the club tomorrow, and hopefully a MTB ride on Sunday w/ the other side of the club (only about 2 of us ride both it seems..otherwise they are 2 very distinct and diverse groups). And who knows...MAYBE...just MAYBE another road ride on Monday! (the club always does a holiday ride...however it's usually Shannon who organizes that, and she is out for life sadly...most of us are still in a funk of sadness for her). We'll see...if it's nice and Jeannie doesn't have me doing any honey-do's, then I will slip out for some more miles...give my poor ol' butt some serious re-acclimating to the saddles this weekend! Have a great one and be SAFE!! And howdies to the fam!!

  2. La Vuelta! Horner gained time on Nibali today and is only 28 seconds out of the lead! Woo Hoo!! If he doesn't crack any time, he is pretty assured of at least a podium position -- but wait, is there another time trial? Hope not!


  3. No, no more time trials. Wednesday is probably a sprint stage or one for the breakaway, then three more climbing stages Thur, Fri and Sat. Then Sunday into Madrid. Yesterday was a real bonus day - Nibali has had the jersey for a long time and the obligations post-race that go with it are taking a toll. The rest day was probably more than welcome for him. Luckily the stage tomorrow is not a climbing one, thereby giving the riders some time to get their legs opened up a bit before hitting the climbs in the Asturias region (LOVE this part of Spain!!). Go Horner!!!!

  4. Is this a pictorial essay of HORNAH at the Vuelta?

    GO HORNAH! :) :) :)

  5. And WHY does this man not have a contract for next year?! Because he wants to sign for 2 years & he can't find a drunk-enough DS/mgr to offer a days-away-from-42 year old redneck such a term? Or because he's asking for too much money/hamburgers/Snickers?

    Man, TREK needs to get off their asses. THIS guy is the ONLY guy on the current team to have done much of ANYthing GC-wise at any Grand Tour this year & he is now 3 SECONDS away from slipping on the red jersey for a threepeat! Come on, guys!

    And it's not like the soon to be AMERICAN team looks overflowing with, ya know, AMERICANS for next year.

  6. While the license is held by an American company, it will be regarded as an International team, not an American team. And he was offered a contract, I think he told me, but it wasn't to his liking so he has stayed open to other offers. Smart of him, of course, knowing what we know now, that his performance at la Vuelta could send his price much, much higher.

    Three seconds Horner! You can do this!


    Oh, I wish Cance had not gone home!