CAPE CANAVERAL–I’m back to where I was a month or so ago: I have an invitation to see a space shuttle launch but don’t know when that will happen and, therefore, if it won’t intersect in some infuriating manner with anything else on my calendar.
As you may have read by now, Endeavour will not launch on Monday after all. The Auxiliary Power Unit heater issue that forced a scrub of Friday’s launch less than four hours before liftoff was not the fault of a single malfunctioning thermostat, as we’d all hoped, but lies somewhere in a complicated junction box that has to be removed and replaced.
(It’s remarkable how Endeavour is starting to resemble our 90-year-old house in its maintenance issues. I can only hope the shuttle’s gutters don’t need to be cleaned as often as ours.)
That work, plus a wait to allow the Air Force to launch a satellite next weekend, would push the next launch date to no earlier than May 8. But NASA isn’t ready to project a new date until a meeting set for Monday. You can find more specific reports, in some cases from NASA employees, on Twitter and on various discussion sites (in this sort of obsessive readership, space enthusiasts act very much like tech enthusiasts), but ultimately I can only wait for the official word.
And I can only hope the new timing works out. Unfortunately, my schedule isn’t infinitely flexible; I’ve got a separate trip upcoming at the end of next week.
Best-case scenario, I get even more acquainted with National Airport as I fly in and out of it multiple times in the week (or the launch gets delayed until after my own travel). Worst-case scenario, I will be as mad as I was when a vicious case of the flu kept me sick at home on the day then-President-elect Obama toured the Post newsroom. (I would have told him something like, “The next time your daughters are asking for a new iPod, please check out my column, sir,” but that might have come out closer to “Hi, I’m an iPod, please ask your daughters for my column.”)
I’m not going to lie to you; this delay is upsetting and disappointing. But I’m not out of this thing yet. Please, wish me a little more luck.
In the meantime, I’ve got a day and a half to be a regular tourist at KSC and maybe check out some of the no-tech sights here. And then it’s back to D.C., back to my occupational networking, back to my kitchen and garden and–most important–back to my family.