Wednesday April 8th 2009. Launch -28 days.


Around midday the Boss came round the offices to say that we had unofficial word, although backed-up by two independent reports. We were not expecting to hear so quickly. What we conclude is that the committee must have given a very strong recommendation indeed that there was no problem and that we should go ahead. Now we really are on fast forward because the date that we have been given is earlier than anyone had expected. In fact, it is a date that we thought had been ruled out.


Fuelling-up will start almost immediately and then final launch preparations will begin and we are now just 4 weeks from launch.


I can’t believe how close it is.


Everything is moving into fast forward and that with half the team away on holiday this week. Today I have started to prepare the database for the Mission Planners to work on next week. I prepare all the observations for them and they then prepare the file that Mission Control will use to generate the sequence of commands to be sent to the spacecraft. To do this in a realistic manner in the tests the Mission Planners must have everything when they get back after Easter. At one point I got the rather uncomfortable sensation that I would wither be working very very late today or coming in over the holiday but, it seems that I have Monday to finish the job because they aren’t back until Tuesday.


In the end it was a broken-up day because there was the Videocon in the afternoon, which was rather longer than usual and extremely useful, but it took a lot of time out of preparing the database. Then, at the end of the afternoon the database server was taken down for maintenance just as I was getting up to speed: very irritating! It did mean a ride home in the evening sunshine and a slightly early start to the holiday. On Monday we really have to hit the ground running because we are in for two crazy weeks.


Today I also had to fix a problem for someone else. One of our team had received the wrong wine order: having paid for 6 bottles he was understandably miffed to receive only 3. Now that almost all the boxes have been collected it is obvious that it is not the case of two names being transposed in boxes. The correct order is now on its way with abject apologies from the vineyard.


Tonight the final package was opened and the last piece of furniture mounted. However, there was a trick to it. The wrong size of nut had been included in the package and two of the drawers could not be properly mounted: brute force and ignorance was needed: yes… time for the superglue! The chest of drawers looks pretty good alongside the bookshelf and now gives me somewhere to put an aquarium. Now all I need is for our retired banker and I to raid the pet shop after Easter as the aquarium needs several weeks running before fish can be added. That will be the finishing touch. The sitting room looks good.


Afterwards it was a late night. I am horribly behind with my monthly section for Tribuna de Astronomía, mainly because I have been too tired to do anything any evening. The preparatory work has been done in spare moments over the last couple of nights and today I have had to finish somehow… some time after 3am and finally sent off.