GO Falcon, GO Dragon

The day before launch is always surreal.  The work of thousands of engineers, technicians and managers have converged to a single second.  The term “all quiet on the Western front” has a lot of meaning here; exchanges of nervous laughter break through their calm facade.  Every engineer knows just one error can cause the rocket to come crashing back to Earth in a fireball along with their confidence and stock options.

The strong words “ABANDON IN PLACE” mark launch facilities abandoned in the golden era of human spaceflight.  Once the height of technology and nationalistic saber-rattling, the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury pads at first glance appear as dinosaurs of a bye-gone era.  Weeds growing in gigantic flame trenches, split concrete on the support buildings, and metal eaten away by the ocean breeze remind me of the fragility of human influence.  I wonder if this new golden age of spaceflight will succumb to the same fate.

It’s an early day tomorrow, starting around 1:30 AM local time.  My call-sign is GNC (Guidance, Navigation, Control), you’ll hear me give a go for terminal count as well as call out the trajectory in flight.

Follow the launch (10:10AM EST) on SpaceX’s website: www.spacex.com/webcast



Dive Detour

Already taking a detour on this log before I’ve set out on the trip!

Today, Edwin and I decided to dive Shaw’s Cove instead of our usual dive grounds (Old Marineland in Palos Verdes or Veterans Park in Redondo Beach [KMZ]).  What a great choice!  Heard a rumor there was a reef around 70′ that was disconnected from the main coral fingers of Shaw’s, so we decided to go exploring.  Unfortuantely there wasn’t another reef, but Southern California waters always hold surprises.

The plan was to take a bearing of 180 and continue until we hit 2000 PSI, after which we would circle around and explore the main reef’s swim-throughs. The initial terrain had a very gentle slope from 40′ heading south and pure sand.  We found a number of squid egg pods (they look like a white blooming onion) starting at about 50′ and were hopeful a full squid run would be nearby.  We both hit 2000 PSI around the same time and smoothly negotiated extending the bearing and making a multi-level dive to keep our air consumption and nitrogen loading in check.  The calm replan and mutual understanding takes practice and trust in your dive partner; We’re looking forward to doing a full cave diver certification program together after the tour.  Just before we turned around, we spotted a lone sea lion twirling in the water.  Like a dog of the sea, it approached and checked us out from all angles before disappearing into the 40′ visibility clear water.  Got a solid 82′ max and 51 minutes on our steel 80’s.

Shaw's Cove with Edwin's trusty sesame dive snacks

Shaw’s Cove with Edwin’s trusty sesame dive snacks

T-Minus 51 Days

Flights are booked, gear is acquired, and our jobs have and end date.

This is the story of Solomon and Tania, in search of adventure.  We’re planning an ambitious bicycle touring trip from Gothenberg, Sweden to the West coast of the Caspian Sea in Baku, Azerbaijan.  Total distance is around 4000 miles, so a little longer than a US coast-to-coast tour.  We expect it to take about 3 months, but have the flexibility to make it longer if something strikes our eye.

About Solomon

I’m a 25 year old Wisconsin native who moved out to California for my career in Aerospace Engineering.  Living in Los Angeles is an amazing experience – you’re about 3 hours away from the desert, the forest or the mountains.  Year-round outdoor activities have permeated my lifestyle – I’ve taken up cycling, hiking, backpacking and SCUBA diving in the past four years. My position as a Guidance, Navigation and Control Engineer at SpaceX is rewarding and it is unfortunate I have to leave.  My final contribution to the company will be ‘flying-out’ Falcon 9 v1.0 as the primary GNC operator at Cape Canaveral for launch – you’ll hear me on the voice loops during launch!  It’s always been a dream of mine; one hell of a way to go out!

Now it’s time to take on a bigger challenge: an extended touring trip.  Touring is the perfect fusion of camping and cycling; traveling fast while remaining self-sufficient.  I did a solo-tour from my doorstep in Los Angeles to Dennis’ apartment in downtown San Francisco in April of 2012.  My plan for the tour was to clear my mind and decide where to focus my efforts other than SpaceX; only after the tour did I realize it was the tour itself that I should focus on!  Fast forward one year; life-timing worked out (amazingly) and I found an awesome tour-partner, Tania to share the experience.

Ojai Punchbowl

Ojai Punchbowl

More about the route and gear in later posts!