Live launch feed: http://livestre.am/rxR
The final space shuttle flight, STS-135, is set to go today, at 9:26:46 a.m. MT, barring weather concerns. The last crew to be sent into orbit on the space shuttle are commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Another view of the crew’s backgrounds can be found here. Currently there is a 70% chance of storms, as I write this at almost five in the morning.
Much has been written about the termination of the shuttle program, for good or ill, but I write about this flight not only for its historic final flight, but also because Rex Walheim and I worked together while I was in the Air Force. Rex and I were missile warning crew commanders in North Dakota as young lieutenants. Well, a couple years back, when I was researching a science fiction novel manuscript, I came upon his name, and thought, what the heck, I’ll drop him a line–and sure enough, he responded. Long story short, we got together, relived some old times, and he gave myself and one of my brothers and his son a tour of Houston’s Johnson Space Center. I also was able to talk with Rex about some technical information in researching my SF novel my agent and I are still shopping around. He had so many interesting things to say about his space flights, one of which was that there’s no knowing who will barf bag it in space; some pilots who’ve never “lost it” have lost it in zero G, while those who have “lost it” in conventional aircraft have not barf bagged it in zero G. There’s just no way to predict, and I found this quite interesting. I also liked how they play “Superman” and “Superwoman,” as they “shoot” (float) from one end of the ISS to another. Fun can still be had in space, too,it seems!
It was great getting together with Rex (he looked the same as I last recalled seeing him), and even continued to exhibit that same boyish charm and humbly outgoing manner I also remembered, and it was fascinating talking with him about his training and orbital experiences. I sent him (and his crew) well wishes on this final launch.
Here’s to a successful launch!