“To travel is to live”. Daniela Grimm’s team has done a lot of living lately. This time, however, we didn’t make it across the Atlantic but were stopped in Zürich…thank god! Other research teams were not so lucky.
After overcoming the airport strike we were all quite excited about going again. We were completely ignorant of the concurrent chaos unraveling at NASA. Because of the strike, we would not fly Copenhagen/Billund – Frankfurt – Orlando, but Copenhagen – Zürich – Chicago – Orlando. Jesper and Daniela now had to come to Copenhagen, whereas Stefan could still catch a later flight from Frankfurt by taking the train from Berlin.
By coincidence, Jesper turned on his phone in Zürich just 30 minutes before boarding the plane to Chicago. Had we boarded that plane, we would have used up all our travel funding.
Jesper got an incoming call from an unknown international number and was at first reluctant to pick up. But he did. On the phone was Markus: “Don’t get on the plane! The launch has been postponed due to a fire”. All hell broke loose. We had to get our bags of the plane, Stefan had to be stopped from boarding the plane in Frankfurt, Anne, who handles the flight bookings, had to be informed so we could get a refund, and we had to find transportation back home. Then came the second round, calling co-workers, familiy and media.
The plane to Chicago…Credit: Jesper Rais
Daniela made a quick decision: “We rent a car and drive home”. This meant a 12 hour long road trip, crossing Germany from south to north and making it back home roughly 24 hours after waking up to an exciting day of NASA fun.
And the reason for the postponement? A fire broke out around the launch pad knocking out crucial U.S. Air Force radars. This was also the reason the Atlas V launch was postponed. The rumor has it that now some of the managers from ESA has arrived, since ESA also have equipment aboard the Dragon Capsule, and they are not amused. A lot of pressure is on SpaceX and will the rocket not fly soon then SpaceX might risk loosing their billion dollar contract with NASA. Other private space companies, fully capable of flying to the ISS, are knocking on NASA’s door.