Astronomy graduate student Juliana Garcia-Mejia attends TESS launch

May 8, 2018
Garcia-Mejia at TESS Launch

Garcia-Mejia: Last month, I was lucky enough to win a NASA lottery to attend the TESS launch as a VIP guest at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. As is the case with rocket launches, there were a series of launch windows starting on April 16, 2018, at 6:32pm. As hundreds of scientists were getting ready to board the buses that would take us from the KSC visitor complex to the viewing site on April 16, a NASA representative crushed our launch-viewing dreams with a simple two words: "launch scrubbed". A second launch window did not open until Wednesday, April 18 at 6:51pm. After countless hotel and flight changes, we were able to experience a spectacular launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the precious TESS spacecraft. While the ground did not rumble ( we watched from a safe distance of 3 miles) I was struck by the roaring sound of the rocket that hit us 15 seconds after launch (due to the finite speed of sound). This was truly an event to remember.

Image of TESS about to launch, Photo Credit: Michael Deep / SpaceFlight Insider