It’s late, so I will keep it short. Today was jam-packed. Matthew and I checked out of our Motel 6 in Palm Bay and headed back to the Kennedy Space Centre with one goal: to get on the general tour that brings us to the shuttle observation tower. It was interesting. I would like to say awesome, however they had yet to move the rotating service structure, which meant that it obscured our view. We were able to make out the tips of the rocket boosters and fuel.
The rest of the day was spent chasing other tour items, including sitting in the captain’s chair of the original USS Enterprise NCC-1701, and experiencing the Apollo/Saturn V Centre. This was the most amazing part at KSC. We stepped into the past and experienced a recreation of the Apollo 8 mission where NASA first sent astronauts to circle the moon. Oh, yeah, and I got to stand underneath a Saturn V rocket.
After a long day at KSC, we booked it to Titusville, found parking for both cars (it only cost us $70) and proceeded to the US Space Walk of Fame. Here we interviewed Lee Starrick, former Fireman at the Kennedy Centre, and volunteer at the museum. We originally discussed only a 20 minute interview, however he generously poured out story after story. We came back with over an hours worth of material. We will write more specifically on Lee in a later post. http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/apollo-saturn-v-center.aspx
Finally, I would like to quickly comment on the hospitality of Titusville. Today has been an exhausting day. Between 7am and 11pm, Matthew and I were constantly on the go. Between the 2 of us, we only ate 4 granola bars and an apple. When we were finished interviewing Lee, I wandered around the downtown looking for a dry place where we could put up our feet. It had been raining most of the day, the air was humid and sticky, and we were wet. We also needed a power supply to charge our batteries and transfer our footage to our laptop and backup drives. I felt like giving up. I was wet, hungry, and a little cranky. I just needed a break. I called my wife, Stephanie, and realized I was starting to complain. We spent a few minutes in prayer, said our good nights, and I was back otn my way. Not more than 2 minutes after hanging up did I stumble upon the hospitality of Titusville’s visitors center. Walking in, they saw I was a bit lost and after hearing about our crazy journey, the documentary, and our lack of resources/accommodations they stepped into action. We were told we could stay at the visitors centre (from which I am now writing). They gave us pillows and blankets, access to wi-fi, an electrical outlet for all our video needs, and access to washrooms (yes no more porta potties). Sue Anne, even when home and lent us a 3 person tent to set up in the parking lot. We are absolutely astounded by the kindness of our new friends, and I can’t help but think that I had only stumbled upon them after a few minutes in prayer with my wife.
There is so much more to say, so many details that I would love to share but I have already stayed up too late. It’s 4 am, Atlantis is being fueled, and we’re all waiting to see if the weather permits her to fly.
Got a call back from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) today!! They apologized for the delay in getting back to us. (I can imagine how busy they are.)
Canadian Astronauts Bob Thirsk, Julie Payette, and Chris Hadfield, will all be present in Florida during the launch. Being an independent film, we are not able to secure press passes to get into the Kennedy Space Center, where the Space Agency wanted to host the interviews. When I explained our predicament regarding media accreditation, the CSA suggested that we do the interview off-site!
They are working out the details now. I will keep everybody posted. In the meantime, our sincere appreciate to the Media Relations team at the Canadian Space Agency for their efforts to help us with this project!
Received a call today from Jim Kennedy. Jim is a former director of the Kennedy Space Center and has said that he’d be willing to sit down with us and talk space, Atlantis and NASA. His bio can be found at http://weneedourspace.com/WeNeedOurSpace/Bio.html. We are still hoping to hear back from a few other interview requests that we’ve put in. More to come.
Chasing Atlantis is now up to a team of 5 meaning that we are running two vehicles down instead of just the single car. We are an official convoy now! Really excited that Melanie has joined the team. An accomplished photographer, Mel will certainly bring a new lens (literally) to our project. You can check out her site at www.melaniegodecki.com/
X Ray scans for metal fatigue have checked out on Atlantis. It would appear that all is still go for the targeted July 8th Launch. The only thing we can do now is pray for good weather. Long term forecasts for that Friday will still be shaky at best. We’ll have to wait until we get closer to launch date. We depart for the US on July 4th.
Still have irons in the fire in terms of interviews. Haven’t heard back yet from the Canadian Space Agency nor Marc Garneau’s constituency office. However, today was a holiday in Quebec meaning that anything coming down the pipe on both those fronts would be delayed. Also sent e-mails out to InnerSPACE on the Space Channel as well as the Toronto Star to see if they would be interested in talking with us either before or after our trip (or both) to see Atlantis.
If you have any other recommendations for people of interest you’d think would be awesome to talk to for the doc, please send us a note!
In the meantime, keep checking back and hit up the Twitter feed for more updates!
Finalized the remaining logistical details with the team yesterday. Titusville is totally booked up in terms of accommodation as we expected it to be. We were trying to ride a fine line between waiting long enough to ensure that the date of the launch would remain fixed (besides weather delays) and waiting too late and not ensuring we have somewhere to stay. We’ve managed to secure a location in Palm Bay, about 50 minutes south of Titusville. While not directly in the city nor in Orlando, we are situated right on the I95 which should provide direct access to the Space View Park and prevent having to navigate traffic through Orlando assuming there will be a high volume of tourists than usual. I called the city of Titusville to see if we could throw up a tent overnight at the Space Park. They said no. I wonder how many tents will be there anyway. 😉
With every single hotel in Titusville booked, the city will be hosting an enormous contingent of people stoked to see the launch. We’re looking forward to joining with the community of launch-goers!
Still waiting to hear back from the Canadian Space Agency to see if we can’t hammer down a time to talk with the 3 or so Canadian Astronauts who will be at the Kennedy Space Center. Would be a huge disappointment to have heard from them the first time in terms of an invitation only not to receive a reply for confirmation. I’m keeping my hopes up.
Just realized as I’m writing this that I still need to book my flight out of Florida back to Toronto. Been putting so much thought into getting to Florida, I keep forgetting about getting back FROM Florida. The rest of the team will probably be staying south of the border for a few days in the beautiful State. I can’t make the drive back. I’m in a wedding party 30 hours after the wedding back in Canada!
STS 135 Astronauts are now doing countdown rehearsals at the Kennedy Space Center. Thus far, inspections on the shuttle are not showing any need for launch delay based on technical failure, structural damage etc. (check out the RSS feed below)
As the astronauts train, we are continuing our planning for the trip. It will be a busy few days and we need to ensure that we can fit everything in that we wanted to do specifically between the Smithsonian, the Space Walk of Fame and the Kennedy Space Center as well as some potential interviews.
Our first full team meeting is tonight. I’m excited to finalize the details of the trip. I also hear that there will be nachos!
Just heard back from the media and public relations people at the Canadian Space Agency. They have a number of Canadian Astronauts they said they are willing to try and connect with us who will be at the KSC. So excited!! Just trying to work out the logistics now.
We are just waiting to hear back from a few other requests that we’ve sent out. I have one outstanding with the Smithsonian, which includes a film permission request we sent out, a contact at the Space Walk of Fame in Titusville, and specifically to Mark Garneau, former Canadian Astronaut and current Member of Parliament in the Canadian Federal Liberal Party.
We have started vlogging for the site as well. Two first entries are finished with more to come as we prep for STS 135 as well as posts while we are en route! The first two will up today.
It’s been a few months since we first conceived of Chasing Atlantis. Watching Endeavour land for the last time earlier in the Spring made the end of the Shuttle Program quite real to me. I began reflecting on how often I was inspired by the launches, the shots from orbit, the astronauts themselves.
I awoke in the middle of the night one evening. At night, my room fluoresces blue from a strand of LED lights that run across the length of my door. unfocused to my unaided eyes I stared at the wall hazy blue and realized I was mid thought in an idea; the kind of idea you are not sure coalesced either in a dream or within the stupor of just having awoken or somewhere in the threshold between awake and asleep where the mind finds a unique freedom of creativity. Though the lights unfocused, the thought was clear; I want to take a group with me to Florida, and I want to put it on film. And the reason I wanted to put it on film was because the group I wanted to take to Florida couldn’t possibly be large enough for me; I want to bring everybody.
The steps we’ve taken since that night have led us down amazing paths. We’ve been able to talk to the PR and Media Relations team at NASA and similar departments at the Smithsonian and we’ve made some great connections with members of the Space Walk of Fame in Titusville Perhaps the most amazing connection so far was a completely unexpected one. Paul, our primary videographer and director for the film, went into get his A/C repaired on his car. When speaking to the dealership owner, it turned out the owner was friends with former KSC Director James W. Kennedy. The dealer showed Paul some of the shuttle memorabilia that was given to him by James.
Alongside forming connections with people who can help us tell our story, we have spent the past few weeks trying to secure tickets to see the launch viewing. This proved to be a most difficult task. We threw in as many e-mails as we could into the KSCtickets lottery pool. Unfortunately none of us were selected. Second, we tried to purchase tickets from Gray Line and Dolphin Tours today with no success. Both websites seemed to crash around 11:55am EST and hasn’t been up since. I managed to get to a checkout cart once, but the sale kept timing out. We’ll have to see if we can find tickets through another channel. If not, we’ll watch alongside the thousands of awesome people who will gather in Titusville alongside local residents to watch the historic occasion and tell their story as well.
We will keep everybody posted as we continue to prepare for our journey to Florida and I do hope that, through our project, we can connect with you, the wider audience of space fans, sci-fi geeks, astronomers, artists….anybody who believes in a small world of people who are capable of huge things in a huge universe.