Busy Week at Kennedy Space Center

Discovery brings the rain, as the skies drape themselves in her honor. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla — If not for weather that blew in Wednesday August, 10 – NASA would have had an event-a-day on the calendar. As it was two of the events backed up together on Thursday that marked NASA’s past and another that allowed a peek at the future.

Space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery were “switched” (Discovery was being temporarily stored in the VAB, Endeavour was in the Orbiter-Processing-Facility-1). NASA recognized the opportunity and invited the media out to cover the event.  The occasion was sad, with the skies above reflecting the mood below. Many of the media present had covered the shuttle program for decades and seeing the orbiters in this state had them in foul spirits.

Discovery (left) gets ready to greet Endeavour (right) on an overcast Thursday morning. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Luckily the GRAIL (short for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) media opportunity was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EDT. Much of the media left the stripped-down orbiters to see the lunar-bound spacecraft.

The twin GRAIL spacecraft sit ready for their date with history scheduled for Sept. 8. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Decked out in the latest cleanroom garb, the media entered into the facility to talk to the experts who are working to make the project – a reality. The event was very educational, as many of the questions of “why” we had to dress and act the way we did in the cleanroom – were readily explained.

GRAIL will work in tandem with one another to scan the moon - from the core to the crust. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

The GRAIL event acted as a great primer for the following day where the “rock star” of the week’s scheduled events was set to enter the stage. The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) or Curiosity as she is more commonly known, her “Sky-Crane” jetpack and back aeroshell were all laid out for members of the media to ogle.

"Mars? Psh - yeah I got that." MSL is ready for her big day this November. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Curiosity is a six-wheeled stunner that was laid out to highlight all of her coolest features. NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) worked over time to make sure that everyone had opportunities to scope out the goodness.

Many shook their heads when NASA announced that a rover would land on Mars via an air bag - so is a jet pack really that odd? Photo Credit: Jason Rhian
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