2:53 am MST- We have just entered the final hold for the Taurus XL which should, in less than 20 minutes, blast off from Vandenberg air-force base. If it does this all right, NASA's Glory aerosol measuring spacecraft as well as three university built Cubesats, including our own, explorer 1 [prime].
Over a week ago we had our first launch attempt, with a lot of tension and drama. To enter the A-train orbit, there is only a very tight 47 second launch window available each day. And if you are launching the rocket south, then it happens at about 3am. More people are here than there were last time as well, because on the previous attempt about half a dozen of the most prominent contributors were in California.
I am not sure what has happened, but the launch window has apparently shrunk to only 24 seconds, and there is 10 minutes left on the clock. Last time the same thing happened during the final hold, and it was a nerve wracking moment to see the launch window quickly shrink in front of our eyes. Before we were relaxed, but as we went in to the final hold it is starting to tense up. There are still many items left on the checklist, and hopefully all of them will pass without incident. The big moment will be for the item called "S-Band on" which is where the clock stopped the last time and the mission was scrubbed. We just passed.!!!
So it appears that orbital sciences successfully fixed the issues plaguing us last time.
6 minutes left on the clock, 3:30 am
Passed the final launch poll... T-5
people are getting really quiet now. Still 24 seconds left in the launch window.
Auto Sequence Start-up at T-1:15
30 sec. everyone standing
successful launch, first stage normal. 16 minutes until cubesat deployment.
The Faring once again did not separate. This happened last time on the Orbital Carbon Observatory, and it is disappointing to see this issue come up again.
The only thing that we have keeping us together is knowing that we already had a flight lined up for Flight-unit 2.
Go Flight unit 2!