As promised in an earlier story here, I attended Goddard’s Launch Party today for the extremely important new precipitation-monitoring satellite, and it was exciting! Here’s what visitors saw on huge screens everywhere at the Visitor’s Center, and on more huge screens across Goddard for their employees, especially the team who worked so long to make this happen.
Before the launch, we heard from four key scientists about the mission.
Shown on the left, astronaut Paul Richards said about the launch: “Hopefully it’ll go off,” so I guess he’s used to technical or weather-related delays and cancellations. None today – launch happened at the first moment of the scheduled “launch window.” Dr. Christa Peters-Lidard, Dr. Jim Garvin (who referred to Goddard as NASA’s “flagship science center”) and Dr. Jack Keye are members of the Global Precipitation Measurement team. My quote from Dr. Kaye is that this is “really neat science that’s important for the U.S. and the world.” I’d say the scientists did a fine job of speaking to the children and nonscientific adults in the audience in language we understand.
We were also told that the launch vehicle, which was built at Goddard, weighs about 8,000 pounds and was transported to Japan for launch via plane, train and boat. Once it’s launched from Japan, the satellite, flying at 250 miles altitude, will be controlled from Goddard.
In another room was shown an amazing “spherical” film called Water Falls, which looks the same from any angle in the room. Here’s a quick video about how it was made.
Two screen shots pre-launch of a Goddard scientist explaining the program (on NASA TV), and the launch pad in Japan.
On the left, kids play in a space vehicle. Peeking through the astronaut cut-out on the right is GPM team member Dave Short, who’s the Greenbelter who first told me about the launch. New Dealers will recognize him as the tall guy on the dance floor.