If you follow me on Twitter or talk to me in person you'll come to realize I'm a space enthusiast. Two generations of my family have worked for NASA, and although I opted for a career in computers I'm still very passionate about spaceflight. You can imagine, then, how excited I was when my brother, a United Space Alliance contractor for NASA, told me he had a car pass to go watch the rollout of Space Shuttle Endeavour from the Vertical Assembly Building to Pad 39A for it's final flight.
I've seen plenty of launches but never a rollout so of course I jumped on the opportunity to go watch. The pictures below don't really do the event justice. For one, the space shuttle is massive and you really get a sense of just how big it really is when you're standing 50 feet away - you wonder how in the world it even flies!
Some people might wonder what the big deal is with a rollout considering it's just transporting the shuttle from one spot to another, but the rollout is every bit as critical to a successful mission as the events of a launch day - after all the shuttle can't launch if it can't get to the pad. To put that into terms a DBA can relate to, think about making sure SQL Server is installed and configured properly before a big deployment - it's important to get that part right even if it seems routine.
I'm glad that I had the chance to go watch because it may have been the last rollout ever. This is Endeavour's last flight and although there's talk of sending Atlantis up one more time funding for the mission still hasn't been approved by congress. I've also been fortunate enough to see not one but two launches while standing next to the countdown clock less than 2 miles from the pad. How'd you like to watch a launch from there to? You have a chance to, and here's how:
Until noon Eastern on March 15 registration is open for a tweetup hosted by NASA; if selected as one of the lucky 150 you'll get the chance to meet engineers, astronauts, and the people behind the scenes who make the shuttle program happen. The 2 day tweetup culminates with the launch of Endeavour, currently scheduled for April 19. Bonus - it's a dusk launch at 7:48 PM which is one of the most spectacular looking launches there is. Don't miss the chance to see what may be the last shuttle launch ever - go register now!