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Launch America: Repost from September 17, 2014

We've made it to L-1! 

Our friends at the 45th Weather Squadron predict a 60% chance of good weather tomorrow as we prepare to launch astronauts from American soil to the ISS! 

Today I'm looking back at a post originally published on September 17, 2014. The commercial crew providers had been announced the day before and while we were all excited, the anticipated launch dates felt far off. It feels impossible to sit here today only hours away from the first launch opportunity -- the countdown clock already running! Since that day I've worked really hard on products the crew will hopefully never use -- intended to keep them safe in an emergency undock scenario. It's true what they say, NASA has backup plans for backup plans! 

I hope you will make plans to tune in tomorrow! Launch is scheduled for 4:33pm EDT with NASA TV coverage starting at 12:15pm EDT. 

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Image credit: NASA

"The last time we launched an American crewed spacecraft was July of 2011. There will be a planned LOS (loss of signal) at approximately 3pm to watch the press conference announcement and witness history."

He was right, the space shuttle last flew in July 2011, and we all knew from the e-mails that a press conference was expected this afternoon, but it wasn't until he mentioned halting the simulation and "witnessing history" that I realized the gravity of the announcement. For those who don't follow the NASA headlines, the announcement revealed which American companies will transport US astronauts to the International Space Station. 

We learned that Boeing and SpaceX will take men and women from US soil to the International Space Station. This announcement and the work these companies have already put forward means we finally have a plan to replace the shuttle; it may sound like a small victory if your world doesn't revolve around NASA, but for us inside, it is a huge victory. Billions of dollars are promised to these contractors and Mission Control assets are already being prepared to support their teams. 

I feel like this experience could be one of those "war stories" days. "Yes, I remember when the commercial crew was announced. I was in the middle of my evaluated mini sim when the Flight director decided the announcement warranted pausing the simulation. We all looked up at the TVs and tuned our "loops" to the media coverage - the same loop system we use today to communicate with the vehicles and each other."

NASA's administrator, Charlie Bolden, said he was "giddy" with a giggle, and I was too. I was excited to finally be in the middle of some serious space action - new rockets and commercial crew vehicles were wrapped around me in a sort of symbolic embrace, right in the middle of heavy-duty training to fly the International Space Station. The skills I'm learning now could prepare me to participate in these upcoming ventures, and this generation may finally get their hallowed "Apollo moment." 

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