OFJ Field Journal from Marcia Segura - 12/4/95
A TRIP EASTI have officially recovered from my trip to Boston and points north! I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my father, sister, and countless other relatives including my sons Matthew and Adrian (he's in school there). It was great fun. Since I don't often get the opportunity to celebrate the year-end holidays with the Randall and Sheridan crew, we decided to make Christmas arrive a month early--on Friday after Turkey day to be precise. A great time was had by all.
Of course, no trip to the East Coast is complete without a visit on Vinal Haven Island off the Maine coast. So.... off we raced to catch the boat (it runs 5 times a day, the last one leaves the dock at 3:15). We arrived at the dock at 3:20!!!! I did it AGAIN. MISSED the boat. Now all was not lost. There is a plane but the pilot was in New Hampshire! No plane available.... Well, that left the boat at 5 p.m. but it goes to North Haven!!! Okay... a quick call to the island, arrangements made, we'd take the North Haven boat and get a "taxi" across the Thoroughfare to Vinal Haven. We arrived on North Haven at 6:15 p.m. after sunset and caught a ride across in an open aluminum skiff (very small boat - no cabin) in total darkness. Boy, do I have a new appreciation for the night sky!!! Try moonlight sailing on Atlantic ocean in November!!! It was an exhilarating experience but well worth the effort.
On Monday, I spent the day at the island school with some of the science classes. We had a great time discussing UFO's, Online from Jupiter, and making comets. The rest of the time was spent with family. Alas, time is so precious and passes too quickly there. Sooner than I wanted, it was time to get on the boat bound for Rockland and make our way back to Boston. Leaving the island is always an emotional thing, a little part of me stays there. Until this trip, I thought I was the only one who experienced this but Matthew was a bit teary-eye as well. The time had come to return to Los Angeles but not before I saw snow fall. Wednesday morning (our departure day) marked the first New England snowfall of the season.
While I was showing the island students the Online from Jupiter page, I realize that orbit insertion was within days. After 6 years, we were DAYS away. And now I just can't believe this is the week!!! Galileo is less than 96 hours fro Jupiter orbit insertion at this writing. Although more than 6 years have gone by since we launched the spacecraft, time seems to have passed like a blink of an eye. Both the spacecraft and the project have had many problems to overcome but here we are.... just hours away! The anticipation and excitement have already started to build around here. It will definitely hit a high crescendo on Thursday afternoon... Everyone will be running on adrenaline alone by then... myself included!
I woke at 4 am this morning; the insomnia begins already. (This always happens to me at emotional/stressful times!) There I am, lying in bed, mentally reviewing the day ahead... all the "stuff" on my calendar. It's going to be busy....
Let's see - Monday - here's my day. Another meeting to discuss observing plans for the ninth orbit. Preparing for and attending this meeting will take most of the day. We call this an integration meeting but sometimes it could affectionately be described as a pack of wild dogs fighting over one small bone We have science instruments and objectives that conflict with each other due to spacecraft resources, geometry, and time. Combine this with the fact that each science representative wants to get the best possible data for their instrument team and you can easily see that these meetings could be a bit stressful. At the end of 3 weeks of meetings, the result will be a good overall science plan for Orbit 9 and compromise for all parties involved. It's like sharing your favorite toy with your brother; first your parents make you and then as you get older--MUCH older--you do it willingly. Sharing and compromising are lessons we learn again and again and again.
At 4 p.m., the fun part of the day begins. There is a rehearsal of the Not Ready for Real Time Players; I'm a member. Who are they?! Well... about 6 years ago, at a Galileo Christmas Party, a group of individuals got together to provide entertainment for the project personnel. They took well-known songs, wrote new lyrics, and performed them. The group was so well received that now NO Galileo Christmas, Launch Anniversary party or any other Galileo event is ever without a performance by the Players. Project management requests our presence to entertain the Galileo troops and Orbit Insertion day is no exception. We will give 3 separate performances this Thursday so the week will be filled with rehearsals to get us ready for the big event.
As for Thursday.... How will I feel? I'll be excited, nervous, happy, anxious.... all those emotions mixed up together; feels something like the first day of school or the first day of a new job... What will I be doing? The day will start like any other but end like none before it. I'll be spending the part of the day in my office trying to work and performing with the Not Ready For Real Time Players. It's going to be a great day in the life of an exciting mission and I'm really thrilled to be a part of it.