At the last minute, I got called up to help NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The drive up took me along the beautiful coastal 101, where the setting sun tinted the clouds pink above the rolling hills. I stopped at the Summerland Winery tasting room just south of Santa Barbara, where I picked up two and a half bottles of their delicious pinot noir and a bottle of dry chardonnay. (We first fell in love with a Summerland pinot noir at the Restaurant at Convict Lake near Mammoth.) I arrived at the WISE launch pad with Whitney, the other media rep, around 8 p.m. We had to surrounder our cell phones at the gate because they were worried about excess radiation — so unfortunately I didn’t get any close-up shots. The Air Force let us and a camera crew stand within a few hundred feet of the rocket. Around 10:10 p.m., the hydraulic machinery groaned and the service tower rolled back along railroad tracks. The blue and white rocket, with WISE tucked into its nose cone, slowly emerged into the spotlight. A light rain began to fall. Hope it stops by tomorrow morning!