During March 22-24, 1994, our STS-59 crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center for our Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT). We were just over two weeks from launch on STS-59, Space Radar Lab 1, aboard shuttle Endeavour. This being my first flight, arriving for a dress rehearsal of our launch countdown was a galvanizing milestone for me. Our ship was nearly ready, as were we. TCDT was the last major milestone we faced in our flight training for the mission. Here are some photos from our 3-day experience.
We flew to the Cape in our T-38 Talon training jets, landing at the shuttle landing facility (SLF) near the VAB. Endeavour had rolled out some weeks before, as shown in these photos. On March 23, we conducted some fire fighting exercises and safety classes, enjoyed crew quarters meals, and toured the launch pad and the crew escape systems, like the slide-wire baskets, we would practice with the following day. Our concluding event that day was a press conference held near the blast bunker and slide-wire basket landing area near the perimeter of Pad 39A.
We finished our press conference work and returned to crew quarters, all of us headed for an early bedtime the night before the terminal count demo test with our launch controllers. We enjoyed some final suit checks before turning in.
Aiming at a T-minus-Zero at around 10 am that day, we rode to the launch pad early in the morning on March 24. Crawling into the orbiter for the first time in the vertical position was an eerie, yet thrilling experience. Our crew climbed into our seats with the help of our technicians, and our Astronaut Support Person, for this mission, our fellow astronaut Andy Thomas. After the countdown reached zero, launch controllers declared a pad abort and ordered a crew egress exercise, practice for a rapid escape from Endeavour to the slide-wire baskets across the gantry.