It’s Friday December 15 and “Sooty”, the affectionate name for the reused SpaceX rocket covered in soot from its previous launch, is still on the pad. Launch is scheduled for 10:36 today, with the possibility of slipping into next year.
We spent the past couple of days resetting our experiment for today’s launch opportunity, replanting seeds and packaging them for placement into the Dragon capsule, and then planting the ground controls. The cold stowage team who do the final payload loading are working miracles in pulling our previous samples from SpaceX 13 while it is on the launch pad and then replacing them with the newly planted material, all in time for pre-flight operations for the rocket for today’s launch deadline. It may all be in a day’s work for a rocket scientist but it is still pretty impressive to witness the dance that occurs around a delayed launch. As one of our colleagues at Kennedy Space Center just said, fingers AND toes crossed for the SpaceX CRS-13 launch today.