“You wake up around five hours prior to going out to the vehicle. It reminds me of Christmas morning, the level of excitement as you get up and have that last meal, get into your orange launch-and-entry suits in the white room and then get on the bus that takes you out to the pad. There’s a background level of anticipation, looking forward to the event. You get out to the pad about three hours prior to the launch. The commander gets in first and is strapped in. The vehicle is on the pad pointed upwards, so everything has been tilted 90 degrees and it is like getting into a different vehicle than the one you trained in. It takes a little effort to get all strapped in, but finally I’m in and the rest of the crew comes in after me. Everything starts to look like the simulators we’ve spent thousands of hours in. The rhythm feels like the simulators. You forget this is actually launch day and not just another simulation.”
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