Monday, November 01, 2010

I'm here! Now what?

After a hectic week, I finally got excited Friday morning as I realized I was going to Florida to not only watch a shuttle launch, but to actually cover one as a member of the press! There had been no time to prepare and I did most of my packing Friday morning. As I printed out the information I would need, I noticed that the Kennedy Space Center pass office was closed on weekends. I called and left a message for the lady in charge of badges, loaded up the camper and finally hit the road around noon.

After about 540 miles of driving, I wasn't in the mood to face a locked restroom and restricted wi-fi, despite my calling ahead with a reservation. So in the morning I took the camper with me as I headed into work, sans shower.

I worried all the way about not being able to get on base. I had called the update number and learned that Monday's launch was postponed to Wednesday, so at least I had some breathing space. With no other plans — and no budget for an $82 day at Disney — my backup plan was to pay the KSC visitor fee and take the tourist tour. A very nice fellow at the badge office gave me directions to the press accreditation office, which was thankfully open on Saturday. I asked the lady there where to find the 11am press conference. She answered, "I thought it was at 10." We both looked at the clock: I had less than 10 minutes.

I made my way to the press area near the huge vehicle assembly building, parked the car and camper and found my way inside. I could hear that the conference had started because they pump the sound out to loudspeakers in the parking lot. I opened the door and walked in to see the press conference in progress — on a large TV screen. Who knew where that lovely room with logos and important people were, that I had seen on TV so many times. They could be anywhere on this huge base!

The NASA folks were really nice. They assigned me my own seat with electricity and wi fi.

And the cafeteria down the road had Starbucks coffee, with free flavors — a Godsend.

I later learned that the briefing room is in the building next door.

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