#NASATweetup Redux – Seeing Rollback of the Rotating Service Structure

Me in Front of Space Shuttle Endeavour During Retraction of RSS
Me in Front of Space Shuttle Endeavour During Retraction of RSS

The huh? You read right, rollback of the rotating service structure. No, it’s not something Walmart and NASA have teamed up with. The RSS is that big thing off to the left of the space shuttle. You can read the NASA definition of it here but basically, it protects the shuttle and provides access to service it. Rolling it back is one of the final preparation stages in a space shuttle launch.

Since we didn’t get to see this during the original NASA Tweetup on April 28, we were able to observe the slow process this afternoon. The rollback, or retraction, began at noon on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. We were about 600 yards from the shuttle. Yeah, super cool.

When we first arrived, we could barely see Endeavour but slowly, she was revealed and can I say, “WOW!”? I’ve wanted to see the space shuttle for so long and there she was in all her glory.

I snapped a crazy amount of photos this afternoon, about 250 in fact. Thank goodness for digital! You’ll be spared from viewing them but you can see a select few over on Flickr.

Space Shuttle Endeavour, Kennedy Space Center, May 15, 2011
Space Shuttle Endeavour, Kennedy Space Center, May 15, 2011

The shot above of Endeavour, taken on the bus on our way back to the press site, is probably one of my favorites from today. I like the one below because it provides scale – see the men on the bottom platform? Incredible. Absolutely incredible.

About 80 of the NASA Tweetup folks have returned and it felt very good and comfortable being back at the NASA press site and being with the other Twitterers. It felt strange, though, not having the whole group together. Due to prior commitments or expenses or other reasons, many NASA Tweetup folks couldn’t return. Honestly, I’m lucky to be back here for the launch (due to work) and am grateful I am here.

Space Shuttle Endeavour, See the Men?
Space Shuttle Endeavour, See the Men?

It’s almost 7 p.m. local time. Endeavour astronauts have been in bed since 4 p.m. already and have a midnight wake up call. I’ll be grabbing a nap in a little while for a 1 a.m. wake up call. Press site opens at 3 a.m. We’ll wave to the AstroVan at 5:11 a.m. and watch the 8:56 a.m. launch. I’m ready!

Don’t forget, follow my Twitter feed at Twitter.com/jenniferhuber.

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Jenn

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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