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A Quest to Answer the Most Pressing Question in Rocket Science: Who Pushes the Button?

13 Feb 2013, 17:05 UTC
A Quest to Answer the Most Pressing Question in Rocket Science: Who Pushes the Button?
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Post by Laura Betz, science writer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Thurs. Feb. 7, 2013, Five Days Before Launch, Embassy Suites, Lompoc, Calif.
After arriving at my hotel for my first rocket launch, I started loading up my plate at Sonny’s complimentary breakfast. Not knowing anyone, I walked up to a nearby group of strangers and asked if I could sit down. As it turns out, they were United Launch Alliance folks. Bonding over the fact that we were all here for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, we got to talking. And because their business is launching things I wanted to know, “Who pushes the button?”
Surprisingly, despite the fact that I was breakfasting among rocket launching phenoms, they said that they didn’t know. And so, early Friday morning began my search for the biggest unknown at 7 a.m. breakfast.

Fri., Feb. 8, 2013, Four Days Before Launch.
In the early morning, I ventured out questioning everyone at our breakfast table seeking out likely button pushers amid NASA, Air Force, and United Launch Alliance, LLC employees–no luck.
Some hours later, I asked Rob Lilly, the deputy project manager for LDCM. He tells ...

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