T minus 14 hours and counting to Saturday morning’s predawn launch for the third major SMB Expedition of 2009, a 14 day tour of the Colorado Plateau and the Four Corner Region.
Tomorrow’s launch trajectory will be toward the south, clearing the Continental Divide three times before entering eastern Idaho on Interstate 15. The Expedition will avoid the dreaded Salt Lake City Metroplex by diverting east on Interstates 84 and 80 for the objective of tomorrow’s 500 mile run, a camp at Rockport State Park near Park City, Utah.
Weather conditions for launch day look to be near perfect, with clear skies, a low of near 50 degrees F and high in the mid 80s, the complete opposite of Expedition One’s 10 degree take-off.
Final loading is underway, with 47 gallons of Low Sulphur Highway diesel, 20 gallons of fresh H20, 4.5 liters of red wine, and 40lbs of high quality kibble for two labradogs. Here is a photo of large black labradog crew member, also known as the four-legged stomach, getting ready for his first desert trip.
The smaller yellow labradog crew member is an experienced desert rat, having survived Bill Burke's heavy truck training 4WD class in may of this year.
Preliminary cooling of the reefer has begun on shore power, closely monitored by the launch crew following last week’s complete frying of the diesel starting batteries:
So far the status of the two new Yellow Top Optima starting batteries appears to be nominal.
Tomorrow morning the crew will be up at 0500 hours for the traditional pre-launch breakfast of store-bought cinnamon rolls and instant coffee. Okay, real astronauts get a breakfast of steak and eggs, but they don’t have to do the dishes before boarding the Space Shuttle!