Disclaimer: Your bedtime may vary depending on location.
Wow, what a day! Absolutely shattered after 20 hours on the go, but my brain - yes, I have one - is still buzzing.
I doubt the day could have gone much better than it did.
Cygnus graduated with its debut arrival at the ISS, via a very well-controlled rendezvous and berthing. Absolutely wonderful to see yet another new vehicle ride up the R-bar and into the grasp of the unsung hero of the ISS, the SSRMS.
We have a lot of Orbital guys on here, including site favorite and all-round legend, Antonio - who I'm sure is celebrating right now. And this is partly why I decided to post this thread, because for a site like this it's not just about the vehicles and the milestones, it's about the people - who's careers, hopes and dreams are being realized via the successes.
Space flight is not easy. We got to see this realization via the usually buoyant SpaceX, acting surprisingly cautious, noting the potential for failure via caveats before (from Elon himself) and to right up to the terminal count (on the webcast). I know for a fact it wasn't showboating. There we real fears inside and outside of SpaceX for this launch - yet they pulled it off! Fortune favors the brave.
It's another level when - like Orbital - you get to know the guys involved. This is their hard work paying off, and I can tell you a lot of these guys go in all hours. I don't think I know anyone in the industry who's a 9-5'er.
And then the day was topped off with the big Russian workhorse deciding it would go into space this time. The failure was nothing to do with ILS, but I'm sure there were some nerves ahead of the Return To Flight mission. ILS don't have the big fan groups the likes of SpaceX have built, but they are faced with similar challenges. The success - pending completion of the Briz-M burns at time of posting - is what it is, another success.
A big thanks to everyone who used this site to enjoy the coverage, with special thanks to the people who helped with coverage - all of whom did so without having to be asked.
Our team is our community. All the webmaster guys, the writers, the mods and the live coverage people are all people who were - and still are - regular members of the forum before increasing their involvement. We're really blessed to have such talented people firstly find the site and then become part of its growth. You could have given me $10m (yes please, if any billionaires are reading this
) and I know for a fact I would not have been able to build as good a team as we have right now.
Second highest viewer numbers in the history of the site today, and not one second of downtime (despite my fears we may require to remove guests for an hour or so during the F9 launch). Our new servers seem to be completely awesome, and there again I find myself thanking our L2 membership for allowing us the ability to afford such a hosting package that can cope with what was a mainstream level audience today.
I'm rambling now, but let me mention one more thing. I still have the e-mail from one member who said his "farewell" to me after Atlantis was towed back into her OPF. He wished the site well, saying he hoped we'd survive "the boredom and lack of interest" in what was to be a post-Shuttle era.
It made me a bit angry, because we had already started to cover HLV and Commercial, along with global space flight - and I wrote back saying "it's not a death, it's a transition, one we had already moved into a few years ago."
I didn't hear back from him at the time. However, he logged back into the site this morning.
This is a brave new era. We lack of the flagship missions of Shuttle, but we have numerous new vehicles and the seeds of options that may provide us alternatives to the politically shackled norm, reigniting that fascination we all had when we first became interested in space flight.
This is a subject-specific site. People come here because they are interested in space flight. That's what makes us different to a mainstream site covering numerous subjects. That make you a space flight fan.
It is your job to do your part. When you go into work or school tomorrow, mention today. If they say "rockets - booooring" give them a slap!
No, not really....just show them the F9 launch video. Show them a photo of Cygnus on the end of the SSRMS. If only one out of every 100 who try that ignites a spark of interest, we'll be planting our own seeds.
It's the least we can do for the aforementioned people working on the vehicles. The people that gave us this successful Super Sunday. The people who fulfil our need to see launch vehicles and spacecraft doing their thing.
We want missions. We want successes. We got that today - and it felt pretty damn good.
Onwards and Upwards!