Sunrise and SDO Rollout at Kennedy Space Center

Sunrise at Kennedy Space Center. Image: Nancy Atkinson

It was a beautiful (and early!) morning at Kennedy Space Center. I arrived at the press site at about 6:30 a.m. to watch the rollout of the Atlas V rocket which will bring the Solar Dynamics Observatory to orbit. Launch is, hopefully, tomorrow (Wed. Feb. 10) but the weather — and specifically winds — are going to be a factor. But this morning, it was gorgeous. Note the launchpad and countdown clock. See more, plus some rollout images below.

Sunrise and the Moon. Image: Nancy Atkinson

See the crescent Moon in the upper right.

Pre-dawn at KSC. Image: Nancy Atkinson

Fog coming off the water, with the countdown clock (actually it is now counting UP, with mission-elapsed time), an empty launchpad (shuttle is gone!) and flagpole. No wind at all; and with all sorts of birds calling, made for a calming, Zen-like experience.

Atlas V with SDO emerges from the processing building. Image: Nancy Atkinson

My first view of the Atlas V rocket, with the SDO satellite in the fairing. SDO will be studying our dynamic sun, and sending back a continual stream of HD data 24/7.

Camilla watches the rollout, too. Image: Nancy Atkinson

Yes, more Camilla. She’s the rubber chicken mascot of SDO, and she’s wearing her spacesuit. She doesn’t get to go along on the flight, but she still likes to wear a spacesuit, just in case.

SDO ready to go. Image: Nancy Atkinson

Here’s the Atlas V secure at the launchpad. The drive of about 1,800 ft. took about 30 minutes, so no land speed records were set today. But during launch, it should move pretty fast!

Me at the SDO press conference. Image: Rich Yaeger

Here I am at the press conference for SDO which took place after the rollout. Fellow journalist Rich Yaeger took this image. Thanks Rich!

I’m really looking forward to seeing the Atlas V give SDO a kick the pants with a successful launch tomorrow…. or the next day, depending on the weather. The Atlas doesn’t have as strict launch restraints as the shuttle does, and winds are the usual suspect for creating havoc with launches. But as one of the guys from United Launch Alliance told me today, they have an hour window, and if they can find four minutes of winds below 20 knots (there are predicted to be gusts between 22 and 30 knots) they can launch tomorrow.

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