Nov. 24, 2014 – With access doors at Space Launch Complex 37 opened, the Orion and Delta IV Heavy stack is visible in its entirety inside the Mobile Service Tower where the vehicle is undergoing launch preparations. NASA's Orion spacecraft is designed to take astronauts to deep-space destination such as an asteroid and Mars.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett via http://www.nasa.gov/content/the-road-to-mars-begins-here/#.VH8tvzHF_cg
Tomorrow morning, Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 7:05 am EST, NASA will be launching the first test flight of the Orion from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station down here in Florida. This is the first mission since Apollo that will carry a spacecraft built for humans out of low earth orbit. This spacecraft could potentially take us (actual people, not rovers) to asteroids or Mars. If everything goes as they've planned, tomorrow's launch will have Orion orbiting the Earth twice and reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles before it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and splashes down in the Pacific southwest of San Diego.
As a point of reference, the International Space Station orbits at an elevation of 211.3 miles, in the range called Low Earth Orbit. Low Earth Orbit begins at 0 km / 0 mi and extends to 2000 km / 1244 mi. GPS satellites orbit midway through Medium Earth Orbit - around 20,350 km / 12,645 mi. Geosynchronous (GEO) and Geostationary (GSO) satellites orbit at 35,786 km / 22,236 mi. The moon is WAY up there, at 384,000 km / 238,607 mi. I found this cool graphic on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Earth_orbit) that demonstrates the distances we're talking about. (Note: you can click on the image to make it bigger and easier to see).
|By Rrakanishu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
Doesn't that demonstrate just how amazing it was that we put men on the moon way back in the 1960s and 70s? Look at how far it is, compared to the ISS, for instance.
Yay! I love a launch. I try to watch most of the SpaceX launches live on the internet, if I'm not where I can see them outside. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to see if I can see it from my front driveway, which faces south. Not sure if it'll be visible because I live about 15 miles from the coast, and about 120 miles from Cape Canaveral. On the other hand, this is a big-daddy rocket. I'll have my tablet outside with me, though, so I can still watch online. And I'm determined to get at least some of my kids up early enough that they can step outside and see it. They're usually in the midst of getting ready for school at that time - we just need to make sure we all have enough time for a 10 minute break for a launch-viewing!
I hope it goes well!!!
In other exciting news (joke, I'm joking!), after a week or so of excessive food and wine consumption (Happy Thanksgiving!), I'm really proud of myself for climbing back on the horse yesterday with the health thing. I stuck to the clean eating and finished the day at a really great 1064 calories AND Connor and I did Week 3 Day 1 of the C25K. We hadn't run for over a week and I really wasn't in the mood to go, but as usual, I felt so much better afterward for forcing myself out the door.