April 2, 1998 - "TCDT"
Catch the STS-90 wave! As we power through the last few weeks of training our "to do" lists are beginning to shrink. We had a lot of different events this week, the biggest being our TCDT (Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test). Think of this as a full dress rehearsal of launch. We wear our LES suits, travel to the pad in a motorcade, enter the orbiter, and run through all of the countdown until a few seconds before liftoff. The three hours on your back move quite quickly, but we can promise you that shuttle seats will never replace your living room recliner!
During the evenings Pappy and Scooter flew STA approaches (evening being the time with the least bird activity). The rest of our days were spent familiarizing ourselves with emergency procedures on the pad. In the event of a pad emergency, leaving the scene quickly and safely is critical. From the 195 foot level of the pad, slide wire baskets will get you to the ground in less than a minute. An emergency bunker has communications and an M113 armored personnel carrier to move people to a nearby helipad if necessary.
Other major events of the week were our flight data file reviews. The flight data file is our "cookbook" of procedures to follow during flight. These were our last chance to add any notes to help us work more productively in flight. With seven crew members, it’s good that highliter markers are available in a variety of colors!
Finally, we had our crew press conference this week. This was an afternoon incredibly packed with newspaper, TV, and radio interviews. The interest in the experiments we’ll be performing was very impressive; thanks for your continued interest in Neurolab!
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