On 26 November 2011, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, I gathered with a group of like minded space ‘nerds’ as a part of the CSIRO Tweetup weekend at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (CDSCC), to watch the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) launch event. Eventually, after what seemed like a very long countdown, an Atlas V rocket, with the MSL stowed safely, blasted its way into space, and commenced its long journey to Mars. We marvelled at the technology, shed a few tears, had a few celebratory drinks and headed back to our respective homes to join the real world.
Forward 8 months and many of the same like minded space ‘nerds’ gathered at the CDSCC for their next space adventure. This time we were all there to watch the MSL land safely after it’s long journey. Or at least we hoped it would land safely. I took the day off work, packed the compulsory phones (a virtually pointless activity considering the CDSCC is strictly a radio quiet area), iPad, and camera. After a short drive we arrived at the complex. Early. A full 5 hours before the scheduled landing time. I’d waited 8 months for this event, and I wasn’t going to miss a moment!