#NASAtweetup 134Redux, Day 1: RSS Retraction

The bus made its way from the press site parking lot out towards the launch pad, and the tweeps squee with delight when the shuttle comes into view. And then we kept getting closer. And closer! And then there was a fence, so we couldn’t go any closer, but the bus pulled off into a field right outside the fence, with a roped off rectangle designating the RSS viewing area, clearly meant for us.

We filed out of the bus into our pen… and saw this:

*Squee!* And then even better, someone with a functioning brain (aka not me) quickly realized if you back up to the farther side of the field, the change in angle is enough that the fence is no longer in your line of sight! Yay!

The Rotating Service Structure (usually referred to as the RSS) is that grey scaffold-y-looking thinger, and like scaffolding, is how the engineers get at the orbiter to work on it, once it’s on the pad, hence the “Service Structure” part of the name. But the other part of the name is “Rotating” – and that’s what we came to see. 🙂

Initially, the RSS was still in place, obscuring the orbiter (as you can see on the left), but after a few minutes it began to swing out of the way, gradually revealing Endeavour herself! (on the right, and below)

And here we have the space tweeps!:

I wonder, how many thousands of photos were taken in that field, in that hour?

Not all of them were of the shuttle…

Stephanie @Schierholz, our fearless leader 🙂 She makes the tweetupy goodness happen!

Gary, our tour guide, again!

The fellow in blue is Gary, the very same awesome tour guide from the last trip!

…But most were! And for good reason!

Endeavour with the RSS fully retracted for launch! All ready to fly. 🙂

Eventually, we took a few last shots, said “Bon voyage!” to the pretty spaceship, and loaded back onto the busses. We thought that would be the last we’d see of Endeavour up close, but then as the bus made to leave, its path took us around to the front of the pad area, and stopped!

Through the right-side windows, we had this spectacular view:

We weren’t allowed to get off there, but they did stay put for a few minutes while we opened the windows, crammed over to the one side of the bus, and frantically snapped a zillion more shots of this amazing machine.

We continued on, with Gary pointing out more interesting tidbits (including the crawler that moves the shuttles from the VAB out to the launch pad) along the way, and headed back to the press site, and from there to where we were staying, because though it’s mid-afternoon, for astronauts and space tweeps who have things to do at 3am, it’s bedtime!

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