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First MegaTweet April 1, 2009

Posted by dakotabiker in MegaTweet.
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As anyone who has ever blogged would say (and a lesson I learned years ago on another attempt at authoring an antiquated web page) — keeping fresh content takes work.  A lot of work.  Providing polished, fresh content even more so.

Four weeks after my “first nice weekend ride” to Harpers Ferry, and I still have but a draft, and a partial one at that.  Not good.  I’ve watched my numbers rise with the Dragons Tail, seriously spike with the Witicisms, and (justifiably) decline in the absence of an update. 

So — how to fill the gaps? 

When I started this blog I toyed with the idea of the occassional “MegaTweet” — for when 140 characters just ain’t enough.  Not just filler (which is worse than nothing) – but a more spontaneous, raw, realtime blog akin to Twitter, but unfettered by character restrictions.  And,  if I really plan to roadblog (which I do), I will not have eight hours of time to edit an 8 hour ride story.  But the MegaTweet would not be a replacement of ride stories, rather an addition, an augmentation.  Like the weekday comics between the big colorful Sunday Funny Papers…

But I certainly don’t want to lose theme either…  You are most likely reading this because you are interested in the an inside look at what a “typical” NASA person may do or you share the passion for riding, or… maybe… both!  So let’s give it a try…

Been an interesting day today.  LRO and LCROSS are both at the launch processing site getting ready for there joint launch to the moon.  I flew down this morning to attend a Launch Vehicle Ground Operations Readiness Review and Launch Vehicle Readiness Review tomorrow.   I completed a review of an LRO requirements assessment on the flight, and upon landing, I was pleased to be running ahead of schedule and managed to call into the weekly telecon for the Lunar Mapping & Modeling Project (LMMP).  The LMMP team is preparing for their Formulation Review next week which has had several of us putting in some extra time the last few days to get ready. 

After the telecon, I drove the rental east toward the coast.  Arriving at the facility where LRO and LCROSS are being prepped for launch.  It is the first time I had been there since LRO and LCROSS arrived.  Things are very busy in the launch manifest at the moment, so LCROSS had to set up their offices in a double-wide trailer for lack of more conventional office space.   Seeing the big “Got Water?” banner of the side of the trailer as I drove into the facility told me I found where I was headed. 

After getting badged for the facility, I headed over to the trailer, lucky enough to have just made it just in time for the LCROSS Plugs-Out test that demonstrates that LCROSS can operate all by itself  (like in its mission) without a bunch of test support equipment attached to it.

I met up with some of the lead engineers and they took me on a little tour of LCROSS in its new home.   Since LCROSS is being processed in a cleanroom, we had to gown up in “bunny suits” (clean jumpsuits)  to prevent from carrying particulate into the processing area. 
After a great walkthrough and test briefing, the team got to work with the test.  Having been a spacecraft power systems engineer earlier in my career, I knew the best place for a Headquarters observer during a critical test was “anywhere else” out of the way.  So for once I had the means of controlling at least one observer (me), and I left the team to conduct the test.  I headed back to the “doublewide” office only to realize I hadn’t been given the keycode to get back in.

I headed over to the LRO banner hung outside the “real” office facilities and met up with some of the LRO guys, and arranged to get a tour of their setup.  Back into a bunny suit…

I got to see LRO up-close.  The spacecraft was in the middle of a 5-day long mission simulation to prep the ops team for the journey from the earth to the moon.  I was also afforded the opportunity to see the Atlas fairing (the top of the rocket that encloses LRO and LCROSS during launch).  Very impressive.  The fairing has the mission graphic of LRO hand painted on the side, with smaller decals of the LCROSS graphic and the NASA emblem.   Being that close to the fairing halves really puts the enormity the launch into perspective.

After the LRO walkthrough, I managed to get the LCROSS office keycode and settled into catching up with the dozens (and dozens) of emails that had accumulated during the day…

About 5:00 a thunderstorm came rolling in — with tornado warnings, and here’s the LCROSS team, assigned to a doublewide (i.e. tornado magnet in midwestern parlance).  Figuring I’d hear an alarm if things got worse — I hunkered down and plowed through the emails — notices of meetings, out-briefs of meetings, reporting actions, strategic planning, review packages…

Finally the storm started to let up and I finally headed off the hotel.  After another dozen emails and five late telecons to coordinate launch planning, and I decided to go off the clock and blog a little….



1. Selena Swink - April 6, 2009

I have to be honest. Most of the NASA jargon does go over my head because I’m just a librarian. Also I haven’t found the “Rocket Science for Dummies” book yet. I do share your passion for riding though and that’s what I first spotted when I found you on Twitter. Keep sharing. Maybe I learn something.

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