When I say part of my job is to cover rocket launches, it makes my work seem flashy. And sure, it was amazing to see it with my own eyes — I can’t describe the rush, the feeling of seeing something leave Earth, knowing it’s bound to things beyond. the limits of our planet.
But mostly, it’s just a lot of sitting around. What lies behind the mystery of being a space reporter is… all that awaits. Rocket launch is boring for hours, days, even sometimes week—And it’s all worth the minutes you watch it take off.
The thing is, you never know what’s going to happen until you get there. Last week, I headed down Florida’s Space Coast hoping to witness the launch of Artemis I firsthand. The Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s new moon booster, is one of a number of systems. the most powerful system in human history and I want to be there for its first take-off.
I arrived with bright eyes, a bushy tail and full of optimism that SLS will indeed take off on schedule on August 29. That never happened. Instead, the next days are spent meeting friends and trying to plan coverage for a constantly delayed launch (I’m there as a freelancer and mostly looking to write… post-launch articles on why it matters, because it do problem) —and play video games.
Until the Steam Deck, I am not a person who likes to play mobile games. I love my Nintendo Switch, but have never had enough must-have titles to make it a travel bag essential. However, the Steam Deck is different. I was on the road a lot for work, and it went everywhere with me — including the launch of SLS.
To watch the SLS fly by at 8:33 a.m. Eastern, when the launch window opens, I have to wake up — let me repeat that, I have to wake up—Until 11:30 p.m. The crowd is expected to be huge, up to 200,000 people, and I don’t want to miss the pre-launch events because I’m stuck in traffic. Also, 700 members of the press have been recognized for this launch, and let me tell you what the press car park and cow shed at Kennedy Space Center was like. can not keep a lot of people. I don’t want to end in one Hunger game situation for parking and a seat, too early/late.
I arrived at the press site around 1 a.m., and after confirming my spot at the stables, there wasn’t much to do. I chatted with some friends, eyes as dull as mine, and then… well, I just waited.
The novelty disappeared pretty quickly. It’s steamy hot outside – we’re talking Florida swamps in August – and freeze cold in the air-conditioned meeting room. And we had hours to wait. My shoes are wet because I’ve walked across the lawn to watch the rocket light up at night (an understandable wish), but the changing temperatures mean my feet are cold and will never get dry. .
That’s about the time I decided to go to my car. I threw a blanket and pillow in the back of my rental when leaving my Airbnb. I climbed onto the backseat, took off my shoes and placed them in front of the A/C vents, ducked under the blankets, pulled the Air Floor, and sped up. Mass Effect: Andromeda.
I haven’t played for long—everything went bad right after that. During the meltdown – when the rocket was fully fueled – a liquid hydrogen leak occurred. While the team was able to fix that problem, they were hindered by an engine that wasn’t cooling properly. (The SLS engine had to be very cold for it to ignite, but this one didn’t. It was later determined to be a faulty sensor.)
But getting away from the hustle and bustle of life — especially where everyone is sleep-deprived, anxious, and uncomfortable — is wonderful. And when the rocket didn’t launch as scheduled, it gave me work to do as I waited at the press site for hours while the traffic dropped.
I never saw a rocket go up that day, or the days after. I don’t know if I have the flexibility to reduce it for the next SLS try, but what I do know is that my Steam Deck will be a must-have for any future trips to Space Coast.