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Remotes, Tweetups, and Rockets: Preparing for Launch


Video courtesy of AmericaSpace

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Covering the space program is an amazing experience. There is a tremendous amount of effort that has to go on behind the scenes to bring the sheer power, the thrill, and the spectacle of launch to the public. Do not think for an instant that it is not work. However, given the subject matter, it doesn’t feel like work (except when you’re told to be somewhere at 3 a.m., only to find out that the plans were changed late the prior day and meetup time had changed to 8 a.m.).  Having said that, we are very fortunate to have the best people in the business working for AmericaSpace.

This team makes sure in the days before launch that most of the “leg work” has already been done. The remote camera and video recorders, triggers, and timers are set, and everyone clears their schedules and appears at the correct time—whatever that might be—to set everything up for the big day. Launch day is almost a break, as now all we have to do is wait for the fictional big red “launch” button to be pushed, snap our pics, and then get to the business of processing all the content.

The launch of SBIRS GEO-2 had an extra element added to it: the first United Launch Alliance “Tweetup” held during one of the non-NASA launches. We were very fortunate to have our own Jeffrey J. Soulliere attend and report on this event as well. As stated in the video, if there is something that you’d like to see detailed about launch procedures and what it is like behind the scenes, let us know and we will try to get that to you.

Pedro A. Vasquez snapped this shot  of AmericaSpace's Senior Photographer Alan Walters during the lead up to the launch of a ULA Atlas V rocket with its SBIRS GEO 2 payload. Photo Credit: Pedro A. Vasquez
Pedro A. Vasquez snapped this shot of AmericaSpace’s Senior Photographer Alan Walters during the lead up to the launch of a ULA Atlas V rocket with its SBIRS GEO-2 payload. Walters was setting a remote camera on the camera mound across from where the Atlas was launching from. Photo Credit: Pedro A. Vasquez


Written by Jason Rhian

Jason Rhian gained Bachelor’s Degrees in journalism and public relations from the University of South Florida and spent countless hours volunteering with NASA and other space groups to gain experience. He has interned with NASA twice. Once at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) press site in 2007 and with NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) in 2009.

Jason has worked with a number of space-related groups and events - including Google Lunar X-PRIZE team Omega Envoy, the 2009 International Space Development Conference and NASA's KSC press site. Jason has covered over 30 launches. His work has been published in Aviation Week & Space Technology, The Spaceport News and online with,,,, Universe Today and other websites.

Whereas some journalists are comfortable repurposing a press release and using imagery provided to them by the public relations arm of that organization – Jason has made a habit of getting behind the pre-approved announcements to cover the events first hand. He covered President Obama’s remarks live from Kennedy Space Center in April 2010. Jason also flew out to Utah to cover the test fire of Alliant Techsystems second test of the company’s Development Motor-2 (DM-2). More recently, he sat in the backseat of history, flying on NASA’s Shuttle Training Aircraft with STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson as he trained for the last mission of the space shuttle era during the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT).

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