Final Shuttle Launch Tweetup

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” — Douglas Everett

I really don’t have the heart to write about the end of an era. Many others are quite prolific in their opinions — both pro and con. I simply want to celebrate the coming together of NASA employees, families, friends, fans, as well as all the new tweetships forged at the Kennedy Space Center during the picture-perfect STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis final liftoff.

STS-135 Atlantis Launch. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

STS-135 Atlantis Final Liftoff. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Honestly, I never believed we would launch on time with all the crazy weather the day before launch. Torrential rain. Lightning strikes near the pad. I’m SO VERY thankful for our sturdy TWent and plywood floor during the L-1 tweetup events. And it all started out so innocently. Look at the gorgeous blue skies on L-2:

2 Days to Launch

NASA tweetup registration

NASA tweetup registration

That evening, the skies told a different story:

Ominous L-2 Clouds over Cocoa Beach

Ominous L-2 Clouds over Cocoa Beach

L-1, NASA tweetup day, the weather turned stormy:

1 Day to Launch

The weather outside couldn’t dampen the spirits INside the NASA tweetup TWent. Space tweeps, who know each other virtually, get to “meetup” for the first time.

NASA tweetup Twent-full

Twent-full!!

Great speakers. NASA’s Deputy Lori Garver kicked off the festivities. Then our special guest, Elmo from @SesameStreet, interviewed astro-tweeters @Astro_Mike Massimino and Doug @Astro_Wheels Wheelock.

NASA Deputy Lori Garver addresses space tweeps

NASA Deputy Lori Garver addresses space tweeps to kick off the formal tweetup event.

@SesameStreet Elmo chats with Doug @Astro_Wheels Wheelock

@SesameStreet Elmo chats with Doug @Astro_Wheels Wheelock

Elmo tells @Astro_Mike he wants to be a teacher.

Elmo tells @Astro_Mike he wants to be a teacher.

Quite the comedy routine. You can watch the U-Streamed video. We learned from @Astro_Wheels that space food tastes like warmed up plastic, and that a Soyuz reentry is like “going over Niagra Falls in a barrel that someone lights on fire.” @Astro_Mike told Elmo that we have to learn to get along on Earth and in space. Team work is how we get things done. @Astro_Wheels added that problem-solving skills are essential. Think Space Station Expedition 24  failed ammonia coolant Pump Module. Side note: Mike also informed Elmo that cougars live in the Bronx Zoo. (But, if you weren’t in the TWent or watching on U-Stream, that comment will make no sense. We’ll just leave it at that.) ;)

Next up: Bill Gerstenmaier, my boss and head of NASA’s Space Operations. He approves the funding to host mission tweetups, so give it up for Gerst. Virtual standing ovation! He gave us a state of the mission update, then the deluge trapped him in the TWent with us.

Space Operations Chief Bill Gerstenmaier

Space Operations Chief Bill Gerstenmaier

View from NASA tweetup tent

Deluge: VAB + launchpad view from NASA tweetup tent

Tweet: TWent Movie Title: A River Runs Thru It, or under it

Angie Brewer, Kennedy Space Center’s Atlantis Flow Director, talked about her beloved Orbiter. We also learned about Space Station research and the new National Lab concept from Tracy Thumm @ISS_Research and Justin Kugler @ISS_NatLab.

Angie Brewer, Atlantis' Flow Director

Angie Brewer, Atlantis' Flow Director

We draw a crowd. The press come in and out of the TWent — our ever present TWaparazzi.

TWaparazzi

TWaparazzi!

After lunch, we headed out to tour the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on the #COOLbus! See for yourself…

STS-135 tweetup Cool bus

STS-135 tweetup #COOLbus!!

On our way to the VAB, @Astro_Ron Garan called from Space Station to say hello to the tweeps! Yes, you read it right. Ron called from space! The tweeps had just enough time to shout out their greetings before the call went out of range. Too cool for words. Right tweeps?

@Astro_Ron tweet after calling STS-135 tweeters from space.Inside the VAB, I always get emotional looking at the flag hanging from the top.

Funny story about the VAB: In the elevator back at my hotel at the end of the day, a boy was telling his mom about getting to go inside the B.I.G. where the orbiter is mated to the tanks. He was telling her it was the biggest building on site, and that’s why they named it B.I.G. I asked if he meant the V.A.B.? Too funny. V.A.B…B.I.G…they sound a lot alike, don’t you think? ;)

Flag inside the Vehicle Assembly Bldg

Flag inside the Vehicle Assembly Bldg

Next, we headed out to the launch pad to watch the Rotating Service Structure roll back from Atlantis, in preparation for launch. We’d heard the roll back was delayed due to weather, so I was pretty bummed…until, voila, Atlantis started peeking out from behind the structure. Wow. Atlantis in all her glory. Here we are in front of of the last Space Shuttle before her liftoff on the last Space Shuttle mission. Many thanks to NASA’s photographer, Paul Alers, who graciously agreed to take our picture, even though it wasn’t on his to-do-list.

STS-135 space tweeps in front of Atlantis on Launchpad

STS-135 space tweeps in front of Atlantis on Launchpad. Credit: NASA/Paul Alers

Overnight I slept with my iphone next to me. All night I checked for scrub email. Nope. Not a one. I left the hotel at 4:20 a.m. but I still didn’t beat the tweeps to the tent.

L-0: launch day!

Take a look at Atlantis on the pad via Sarah Horst‘s twitpic.

Sarah Horst @PlanetDr twitpic of Atlantis on the pad L-0We had a steady stream of speakers all morning. NASA’s Deputy @Lori_Garver came back to chat; along with Laurie Leshin, Deputy of the new Human Exploration and Operations Office (we’re merging Exploration Systems and Space Operations); Chief Technologist @Bobby_Braun; STS-132 Pilot Tony Antonelli, and ROCKet star, Bob Crippen, STS-1 pilot, my former boss. I was running around, so I missed some of the drop ins.

STS-132 astronaut Tony Antonelli

STS-132 astronaut Tony Antonelli

STS-1 Pilot Bob Crippen

STS-1 Pilot Bob Crippen

We posed for our group portrait by the launch countdown clock, then headed out to see the crew in the astrovan on their way to the launch pad. No U-turns this time!

Countdown clock portrait

Countdown clock portrait. Credit: NASA/Paul Alers

Astrovan with STS-135 crew

Astrovan with STS-135 crew. No U-Turns!

So many highlights to share from this historic event. A real tear jerker for all of us was the debut of Shuttle Fanfare, composed by Battlestar Galactica’s Bear McCreary through the teamwork of Seth Green, Mike Dougherty, and NASA. Seth introduced the tribute theme song for STS-135, and explained that he’s working on a Blog-umenary for the Fragile Oasis website detailing the process to create the song.

Seth introducing Shuttle Fanfare

Seth introducing Shuttle Fanfare

Space tweeps eager to hear Bear McCreary's Shuttle Fanfare composition

Space tweeps eager to hear Bear McCreary's Shuttle Fanfare composition

@Astro_Ron Garan called again from Space Station just before launch. This time I passed around my iphone for the tweeps to take to Ron individually. Quite a rush!! We’re hoping to compile a transcript of what everyone talked to Ron about.

But even as awesome as it is to talk to space,  the star of the show was Atlantis herself. What an amazing vehicle. What an incredible legacy.

Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad

Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad

The press site was crawling with humans and cameras. I wasn’t at NASA in the beginning of the Shuttle program. I’d never seen so many satellite trucks and viewing platforms. I’m thankful Atlantis drew a crowd. She deserved it. This photo of Karen James, STS-133 alum, paints a portrait of passionate enthusiasm we all felt.

@keJames eager for Atlantis to liftoff

@keJames eager for Atlantis to liftoff

Press Site Craziness

Press Site Craziness

But we weren’t the only ones watching Atlantis leave this planet for the final time. The Expedition 28 crew onboard Space Station were glued to their screen.

@Astro_Ron tweets pic of Space Station crew watching launch

No, it's not Sunday football. Expedition 28 crew watching Atlantis liftoff.

Here is my launch collage of Hipstamatic images of Atlantis breaking the bonds of gravity.

Collage of my iphone images of Atlantis using the hipstamatic app

Collage of my iphone images of Atlantis leaving Earth.

Thank you space tweeps for making this final launch so special. You are part of the NASA family now! I think this picture says it all:

@KelleyApril + @glancz jumping for joy

@KelleyApril + @glancz jumping for joy!

Big takeaway: We turn dreams into reality. Let’s go boldly into the future together.

For now, if you want to help make this world a better place, join Fragile Oasis and submit your own project. Founder and chief Bloggernaut @Astro_Ron is waiting to hear from you!!

Flyer for Fragile Oasis

Fragile Oasis Tweetup Flyer

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12 Comments

Filed under Earth, leadership, NASA, social media, space, tweet-up

12 responses to “Final Shuttle Launch Tweetup

  1. Awesome post and photos! Though I must say on the header of your website, it sucks to be one of the short people, haha :P

  2. AWESOME post Beth! Thank you for this and for all that you and your team have done for us! Talking with Ron Garan was totally a highlight of the Tweetup for me. Love your Hipsta pics (and get on Instagram too!!!) ^__^
    – Jason (@JPMajor)

    • beth beck

      Thanks Jason. Pretty cool to talk to space from an iPhone, right? Ah the simple (or not so) things in life. :) Did you tweet out your conversation with Ron? We want to capture the thread and post it on FragileOasis.org. Instagram is next on my list to play with.

  3. What a perfect wrap up. :)

    • beth beck

      It’s hard NOT using every story and every picture in the post. At least we can collect all the blogposts to create the big picture from a personal point of view. I SO love social media!!!!!

  4. Absolutely one of the most amazing weeks of my life. Thanks to EVERYBODY who put the tweetup on. Working on my own wordpress post about the whole experience, just way too busy to get it done yet!

  5. Pingback: Welcome to Gravityland @Astro_Ron | Bethbeck's Blog

  6. Pingback: SpaceTweetup: #Awesome | Bethbeck's Blog

  7. Pingback: 2011 My Space: Top 10 Off-Planet Pics | Bethbeck's Blog

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