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Amtrak to SpaceX Launch, Wifi hack, Spectacular trip, But where's my SatPhone...
by Bradley L. Bartz
Vandenberg AFB CA (SPX) Jun 26, 2017

A Falcon 9 lofts a batch of Iridium birds into orbit. Photo by Brad Bartz.

The rumble of the air introduces the Spacex Falcon as it roars over the hill and the crowd screams seem to propel it higher. It was quick, but slow at the same time.

My brain clicks the shutter as quick as I could, firing off 50 shots before separation. Poof and SpaceX made its own cloud that just hung around as the rocket continued its mission.

The journey to see the SpaceX launch was just as fun as the 2-minute thrill.

From Los Angeles there are two choices. 1. Drive. 2. Take a train. The drive is beautiful, but it means that the driver (me) will only enjoy the launch, not the journey. So, with a slight of hand and credit card I booked 4 seats on the Amtrak California Surfliner.

Leaving LAX Union Station at 7:50 the 4-hour ride hugs the coast after a trip thru the sandstone hills of Chatsworth to Simi Valley. Right now I'm heading Southbound typing this story while watching the coast float by. The return trip leaves at 3:16pm back to Los Angeles leaving a 3-hour window to walk from the Amtrak Surf station to 13th and Ocean to watch the liftoff.

I guess we look like space geeks because more than a few passengers stopped by our seats to chat about the launch. The social network in person is so much better. Gabriel took his time to read from Reddit new updates about the launch. My mind went back to Howard Cosell giving a comic overture about Mohammad Ali. Not sure why, but on the train your mind is allowed to be free instead of the road and white-line-fever.

My traveling partner is President and Founder of Advanced Rockets Corporation, Othniel Mbamalu. ARC is pursuing a patent-pending rocket and reusable vehicle system focused on leveraging air breathing low altitude technology to speed to the switch to on-board oxidizers for the jump to orbit. This engineer from Nigeria is going to give Musk a run for his money. At least that is my impression from my lucky viewpoint.

"I expected the launch to be successful and the booster stage would hit its mark. We know that happened now. I was hoping to see the rocket on the launch pad, but we did not get that close." Said Mr. Mbamalu.

Ok, this is my first time seeing a rocket launch. My planning focused on getting off the Train at Surf station and going to the beach. Surf is 4 miles line of sight to the launch pad. So, I got on Google earth and sought the azimuth to point my camera to get the best shot. It was 186 degrees south.

As soon as we got to Surf Station the military presence was felt and seen. Ignorance does not mean you get to break the law. The air force military police were so cool. We asked a couple of questions and then started walking as instructed to 13th street. The fog at the station did not dampen our smiles as we saw blue on the horizon as we marched. And march we did!

The military vehicles passed us back and forth. These cool dirt off road vehicles all painted sand and what not. We just kept walking. And then.... We were surrounded! The nice young man said, "turn around you're going the wrong way." (ok wait, he did not say that, that was the Sega video game when we would race backwards.) But, he basically said go back to the beach.

So, we did. Kinda excited to be able to touch the Pacific Ocean and watch Musk's rocket go to space.

Then we get surrounded again and the military police inform us they are clearing the area and they will have to give us a ride to 13th Street. I had a beer in my hand and the truck could only fit three. So, I stayed behind, after emptying my beer to get the ride in the first place! As the family faded in the distance I got the time to take pictures of the local Hawk circling the ocean trails.

So, the moral of the story is: Take Amtrak to Surf station. Walk really slow and the military police will give you a ride. On the way back was another story that you will have to wait a few paragraphs for.

Ok, do you need some rocket facts? The Double Header of launching the SpaceX Falcon just two days after another launch is showing Musk's impatience or market dominance. The launch pad was #4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The rocket was carrying the next delivery of Iridium satellites to further confuse us with Netflix.

Oh, and the rocket made its landing right on target.

Just before you go, one more very serious note. My PC got hacked on the Amtrak wifi. A cat with a Christmas hat with happiness written in Dutch now is my background screen. My travel laptop is an innocent one so nothing to lose. But, I warn Spacex that this Amtrak Wifi breach during launches is suspect. Although the cat was funny, I wonder about the rest of my hard disk. Please tell the feds to monitor this train.

Bradley Bartz owns and operates ABC Solar Inc in Los Angeles California. He writes for Spacedaily and other publications and can be reached on [email protected].

SpaceX's first recycled Dragon arrives at space station
Miami (AFP) June 5, 2017
SpaceX's first-ever recycled spaceship arrived Monday at the International Space Station, two days after the unmanned Dragon cargo capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Live images on NASA television showed the spaceship approaching the orbiting outpost, then being grabbed with the station's robotic arm at 9:52 am (1352 GMT). "Capture complete," said NASA ... read more

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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