SpaceX Transporter 3

A Front Row Seat!

I was fortunate to cover the SpaceX Transporter 3 mission which launched on Thursday, January 13, 2022. This was the second successful SpaceX launch of the year with plenty more to come in 2022. The following article discusses my experience while attending the launch at Cape Canaveral, including placing my remote camera at the launch site, SLC-40.
Camera at launch pad
Camera at launch pad
Chuck Fields - SpaceX Transporter 3
Chuck Fields at SLC-40 with SpaceX Transporter 3

 

SpaceX Transporter 3

 

Credit: Chuck Fields

Where do you live?

I’ve lived in the Indianapolis, Indiana area for 20+ years; I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tell us about your podcast: what’s it about, how long have you been doing it, and how can people learn more?

I created my podcast “Your Space Journey” a couple of years ago. It’s actually a spinoff from my podcast “Online Coffee Break” which I started in 2018. I had such a tremendous response to my space episodes that I created Your Space Journey to focus on the amazing current events of space exploration and the incredible people leading us. I’ve been fortunate to cover several launches, some from close up and others from afar, including interviews with current astronauts from the latest SpaceX crewed missions and past astronauts such as Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise, plus legendary astronauts Scott Kelly and Dr. Story Musgrave. The podcast is available on all popular podcast apps, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, even Amazon Alexa. More information is available at YourSpaceJourney.com.

How did you get interested in space exploration?

One of my earliest memories was a poster my parents gave me in elementary school that featured all of the Apollo astronauts and a huge map of the Moon. But that interest was really jumpstarted when at age 12 I received my first telescope for Christmas (back in 1979). That was actually quite a tough time for my family. We lost my sister Traci (age 16) to leukemia on Christmas Eve. I suppose I turned to astronomy and space exploration to help me grieve but also developed a great passion for it which I still have to this day.

Why were you invited to watch the SpaceX Transporter 3 launch Jan. 13?

I applied to attend several weeks ago, using my podcast credentials. That definitely doesn’t guarantee an invitation, but in this case two days before launch I found out my invitation was accepted. I happened to be in Florida at that time, so I happily made a two-hour jaunt to Kennedy Space Center (and thankfully was able to take a day off work to attend!).

What was the experience like?

I had the wonderful pleasure of watching this incredible launch from the U.S. Space Force station just about 3 miles or so away from SLC-40, where SpaceX Falcon 9 was at the pad. The Transporter 3 mission is unique for several reasons. First this rocket carried 105 satellites for several customers, an amazing indication of how space is becoming accessible for customers around the world. Secondly this was the first launch from Cape Canaveral which landed the Booster onshore, at Landing Zone 1 just a few miles away from the launch pad.

Typically SpaceX has been landing boosters 300 miles away in the ocean, using their incredible recovery ships, such as my favorite “Of Course I still love you” (OSISLY). But for this particular mission the trajectory and payload allowed for enough fuel left in the booster to return to LZ1, just about 8 minutes after liftoff.

For me, this was the third time I’ve been fortunate to witness a booster landing, the first two being Falcon Heavy launches a couple years ago. It’s almost indescribable to watch a rocket liftoff, feeling the incredible sound rumbling through your bones while watching the rocket rise higher and higher. But to then see the booster separate and watch as it “falls with style” as Buzz Lightyear would say—it’s simply amazing. As if this isn’t awarding enough, viewers are treated to a sonic boom as the booster approaches the landing pad, slowing down enough to de-breach the sound barrier.

This booster – B1058, flew for the 10th time, the third such booster from SpaceX to do so. For me, this was my second time seeing this booster fly—I saw it last for the Starlink L20 mission in March 2021. Historically this booster is famous for first flying on SpaceX Demo2, the company’s first crewed mission, featuring Bob & Doug.

What an incredible accomplishment by SpaceX and their amazing team. Launch went without a glitch and I’m still reeling over the photos I was fortunate to take with my remote camera just a few hundred feet away from the launch pad.

This marked the second successful launch by SpaceX for 2022 with many more to come. I can’t wait!

What do you do with the photos and experience?

I enjoy sharing the experience with others and of course love to get good photos. That’s not easy to do! I was fortunate to cover the launch of SpaceX Inspiration 4, the first all-civilian space mission, back in September 2021. I had two remote cameras at the launch pad and neither got a decent photo. I’m also a part-time coding teacher though, and for Inspiration 4 I actually was able to live stream the launch from Kennedy Space Center to my class at Butler University.

What comes next for you and your podcast?

This experience really got me even more excited about the future of space exploration. I’m in the process of lining up new guests and topics for season 3 of “Your Space Journey”, and hopefully looking forward to covering a couple more launches this year. I’d really like to help spread the excitement with others, and hopefully help encourage kids and adults alike that we have a bright future ahead. We just need to allow ourselves to dream, think positive, and enjoy the ride, even if it’s through a camera 😊

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