Category Archives: social media

Feast on Good: Tasty Treat

I returned home last night from two days of feasting on good — a smorgasbord of innovative social good projects and conversations with innovators who all seek new ways to make this world a better place. I had the good fortune to attend because the conference organizers asked NASA to present LAUNCH: Collective Genius for a Better World. Jim Adams, Deputy Chief Technologist for NASA, presented LAUNCH to kickoff Day One of the Feast. Several of our LAUNCH team members attended: Diane Powell/NASA, Will Schmitt/USAID, Laura Adams/NIKE, Todd Khozein/Second Muse, and Victor Friedberg/BIG.

Stop Waiting for the World to Change. Change it and the world will follow.

A huge thanks to Jerri Chou, Feast organizer, for throwing such an amazing event. I met so many crazy brilliant people who have such passion to change the world. I love talking to others who care so deeply about creating social good. Two days of non-stop intellectual and emotional engagement is both exhausting and rejuvenating. I’m filled with so many new and intriguing perspectives on how to approach solution-creation.

Here are a few tweets to reflect our experience.

Feast: Tony Chu tweet

@Feast: @NASAJim tweet
Feast: Amy Muller- Arcade Fire tweet

@Feast: @Aijenpoo tweet

Feast: @BethBeck @StoryPirates tweet

@Feast: Invisible Helmet tweet

Feast: @Fluid tweet

On Feast Day Two, we broke into groups to tackle a series of Design Challenges covering Data, Health, Poverty, Eco, and Open Design. I worked on the Open Design challenge team — “to empower a new group of people to make something that improves their physical environment.” We chose to interpret the challenge as a way to help kids know that “things” they interact with are actually made. They live in a world of products that magically appear on shelves in stores. We want them to engage in the “making of things” and be curious about how things are made. We created the concept of the “Breaker Box” where students are given a box with things inside that they can deconstruct and make something out of. We chose to create a Swiss Army Music Box with tools that could be made into musical instruments. What a fun team to work with.
Feast: Danielle Ma tweet

Feast: Richard Demato @rdemato tweet

Feast: @RobinHoodNYC tweet

Feast: @bethbeck open design challenge tweet

@Feast: Open Design Challenge tweet

@Feast: Eco Design Challenge tweet

@Feast: Health Design Challenge tweet

Feast: @Changeorder "Amber Waves" tweet

The only downside to the Feast: wifi overload. With the live stream and the hacking challenge community going on at the same time, I couldn’t tweet fab tidbits of wisdom in most of Day Two and the latter half of Day One. But, that’s a good problem to have. Great demonstration of demand swamping supply.

Feast: Follow the hashtag
All in all, my favorite speaker was the self-titled Evil Genius @Whurley, co-founder of Chaotic Moon Studios. He totally speaks my language. On his card: “We may not have been invited to a lot of parties in high school, but trust us — You don’t want the Prom King in charge of your mobile strategy.” Too funny.  His success formula: Instigation + Collaboration + Innovation. He defined instigation as the heart of innovation. I totally agree. He challenged us to go against the grain. If our ideas are easily accepted, they can’t be all that innovative. Collaboration comes at a cost — a balance of control vs. influence. Controlling an idea can stiffle progress. He recommended we work toward influencing an outcome vs controlling it. Well said! Here is one of my favorite quotes:

Feast: @BethBeck quoting @Whurley tweet

Thanks Feast! I feel recharged and ready to rush out and change the world.

And, BTW, all you feasters, submit your challenge projects to Fragile Oasis. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

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Filed under innovation, LAUNCH, social entrepreneurship, social media

Discovery Rules Galactic Social Media Empire

Discovery Alexandria Flyover @bethbeck

Discovery Alexandria Flyover @bethbeck

On Tuesday, I watched the Space Shuttle Discovery piggyback over Old Town Alexandria with several hundred others who gathered at the waterfront. When Discovery appeared in the sky, I cried. The intensity of emotion that flooded over me took me totally by surprise. I thought I was over it — that I’d moved on after the final Space Shuttle mission. I was wrong. It hit me hard.

Shuttle Discovery over DC. Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn

Shuttle Discovery over DC. Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn

On Thursday, I was scheduled to speak at the first ever #140cuse social media conference at Syracuse University in New York. My topic: Launching a Galactic Social Media Empire. The format for the conference is 10 minute presentations. You can browse the list of speakers on the #140cuse Conference website.

Badge from #140cuse Conference

Badge from #140cuse Conference

“One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” — Sophocles, 400 B.C.

After an emotion-filled experience with Discovery, I changed the focus of my talk from creation of a social media empire to the outcomes from a social space empire – specifically the #SpotTheShuttle campaign. Social media connected us in awe and wonder as we looked up to the skies to witness a seasoned spaceship flying by the power of her Earth-bound transport over the nation’s Capitol on her way to retirement at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy facility.

Discovery RULES the Galactic Social Media Empire!

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LauraBly

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LauraBly

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ebuzzedge

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ebuzzedge

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @USAgov

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @USAgov

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @KelleyApril

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @KelleyApril

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @kachok

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @kachok

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @DarrenMilligan

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @DarrenMilligan

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @WorldBankPhotos

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @WorldBankPhotos

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LisFace

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LisFace

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @SenJohnThune

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @SenJohnThune

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @jeff_foust

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @jeff_foust

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @CindyhM1

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @CindyhM1

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @raffg

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @raffg

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @PapaBradstein

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @PapaBradstein

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @almacy

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @almacy

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @brookezigler

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @brookezigler

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @datachick

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @datachick

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @RobertPearlman

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @RobertPearlman

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @charlieowen4

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @charlieowen4

Discovery: @stevenyoungsfn #SpotTheShuttle
Discovery: @stevenyoungsfn #SpotTheShuttle
Farewell, dear Discovery. You are well-loved.

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Filed under NASA, social media

Very Spacey Social Media Week in DC

This week was social media week around the world. How cool to participate on the Breakfast Kickoff Panel, and our NASA Tweetup with Space Station Astronaut Ron Garan. Here is a snapshot of DC Social Media Week chatter: a little space on Earth.

@skytland tweet

DC Social Media Week Kickoff

Peter @Corbett3000 kicks off DC Social Media Week

Social Media Week @GoogleDC tweet

Social Media Week @InTheCapital Tweet

Social Media Week @jnetter tweet

Social Media Week @yourdailyphil tweet

Social Media Week @Isaldarriaga tweet

DC Social Media Week Panel

Fellow Panelist @AlliHouseworth + Moderator Bonnie Shaw @bon_zai

Social Media Week @AlliHouseworth Tweet

DC Social Media Week

Fellow Panelist Ryan Hill @Hirshorn

Social Media Week @R_Steinbach tweet

Social Media Week @SMWWDC tweet

Social Media Week @bon_zai tweet

On Tuesday, NASA hosted three Space Station astronauts: Mike Fossum, Cady Coleman, and Ron Garan. They debriefed NASA Headquarters employees, met with Members of Congress and staff, and split off for separate events. Cady and Mike when to an event at the Air and Space Museum while Ron hosted space tweeps at the NASA tweetup at NASA Headquarters in downtown DC.

NASA tweetup @Astro_Cady Tweet

@AndreasSchepers Tweet

NASA tweetup @NASAhqphoto Tweet

NASA tweetup @schierholz Tweet

NASA Tweetup @andresdavid Tweet

NASA tweetup @bethbeck Tweet

NASA tweetup @Astro_Ron Tweet

NASA Tweetup @KelleyApril Tweet

NASA tweetup @bethbeck Tweet

NASA Tweetup @Sig727 Tweet

NASA tweetup Crowd. Photo: NASA/Carla Cioffi

NASA tweetup Crowd. Photo: NASA/Carla Cioffi

NASA tweetup @Astro_Ron Tweet

NASA Tweetup @datachick Tweet

Thanks for letting me share a few highlights from a great week! And a real treat for me: trending in DC during Social Media Week!

Social Media Week @TrendsDC tweet

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Filed under astronaut, Fragile Oasis, NASA, social media, tweet-up

ESA Space LUV: Italian-Style

The morning after the ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup, NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz and I met with  Marco Trovatello and Henning Krause of the Germany Space Agency DLR and Fulvio Drigani,  Erica RolfeDaniel ScukaAndreas Schepers of the European Space Agency ESA to talk lessons learned from the first-ever European tweetup. Great sharing ideas and good practices across agencies.

Space Tweetup Debrief with ESA, DLR, NASA

Space Tweetup Debrief with ESA, DLR, NASA

Erica, bless her heart, traveled with me to Italy for the next ESA tweetup at the ESRIN facility. We took a train from Cologne to Frankfurt. A plane from Frankfurt to Rome. And a taxi through congested evening traffic to Frascati, located south of Rome.

ESRIN is ESA’s European Space Research Institute – the center for Earth Observation. No one prepared me for the little piece of paradise I would encounter in the land of olive trees, lavendar bushes, grape vines, and cappuccino bars!

Morning Cappuccino Break

Morning Cappuccino Break at ESA/ESRIN

Olive groves on ESA/ESRIN property!

Olive groves on ESA/ESRIN property!

Not so hidden among the olive trees, ESA's satellite dish.

Not so hidden among the olive trees, ESA's satellite dish.

On Thursday, ESA hosted a small group of space tweeps for a one-on-one question and answer session with the MagISStra crew, ESA’s name for the Expedition 26-27 Space Station crew: @Astro_Paolo Nespoli and @Astro_Cady Coleman. @AstroSamantha Cristoforetti was part of the panel as well.

ESA MagISStra Mission Logo

ESA MagISStra Mission Logo

Each of the tweeps had been invited for their support during @Astro_Paolo’s mission, or for winning ESA twitter contests, or for supporting the mission within ESA. @NickAstronomer won the golden ticket as the 25,000th @ESA twitter follower. Here is the list (forgive me if I missed someone): @TiraLondon, @SpaceKate, @mariiabennet, @nhaima, @Stelygs, @pressarea,@mattegianni, and @HimeIshida.

Tweeps: ESA/ESRIN SpaceTweetup

Tweeps: ESA/ESRIN SpaceTweetup

@Astro_Cady @Astro_Paolo @AstroSamantha

@Astro_Cady @Astro_Paolo @AstroSamantha

Space Tweeps chatting with astronauts

Space tweeps chatting with astronauts

@Astro_Paolo with @AstroSamantha tweeting

@Astro_Paolo with @AstroSamantha tweeting from stage

@tiraLondon tweet

@stelygs tweet

@nhaima tweet

@pressarea tweet

After our session with the astronauts, we toured the facilities at ESRIN. Here we are wearing our cool spacey 3-D shades to watch GOCE satellite image animations.

Tour of ESRIN facilities

ESA GOCE image of Earth

ESA GOCE image of Earth

Touring the facilities

Touring the facilities: @Stelygs @mattegianni

Space tweeps tweeting during tour

Tweeting: @pressarea @ericarolfe @mattegianni

ESA @TiraLondon @SpaceKate

@TiraLondon @SpaceKate

After the tour, we headed out to Frascati to an event with the Mayor, citizens, and astronauts.

Frascati, Italy

Frascati, Italy

Q & A with Mayor and Citizens of Frascati

Q & A with Mayor and Citizens of Frascati

They posed for pictures in front of this statue. I’m not sure the story behind the second head, but it can’t be good….

Statue in Frascati's Town Hall

Statue in Frascati's Town Hall

Great day all around!! 

Special thanks and well-deserved praise for my ESA colleagues. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share your world with you this past week. I want to take a few moments to thank you each individually.

Erica Rolfe (communicator extraordinaire and force behind the @ESA twitter account):

Words can’t begin to express my appreciation for you. You are a gracious and cheerful host, all the while juggling several events, social media, and family. You made sure I had rides to the ESA office and events, a place to work, and plenty of opportunity to share ideas with ESA staff. Erica, you’re truly AWEsome. Virtual applause for all that you do. Thanks for sprinkling me with your star dust.

In fact, @Astro_Paolo presented an award to Erica, but she missed it. She was presiding over a facilities tour with invited space tweeps.)

Fulvio Drigani:

Thanks for your vision and support for the role social media can play in connecting Earthlings with space. Your easy laugh is a delight. I look forward to working closely with you when we hatch our future partnership plots. We have so much to gain by working together more closely.

Frederic Le Gall:

Thanks for your probing questions and lively debate over how best to tell the story of space and allocate scarce resources. You made me think the most! I look forward to the FAB new ideas you have in mind for future projects. Let us know when you’re ready to collaborate.

Asa Ericson:

You are an absolute doll for picking me up at my hotel each morning, taking care of badging and wifi access, making sure I have coins for the vending machines, copying your map to keep me from getting lost, and overall cheerful support. You put me at ease and helped me feel at home. I’ve never felt so welcome. Truly. You’re wonderful.

Daniel Scuka:

Though you didn’t come back to Italy with us, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking care of me in Cologne. Your sense of humor and chill demeanor helped ease my jet-lagged slogginess. And I enjoyed your German, even though the taxi-drivers made you switch to English. My regards to your Texan wife!!

Samantha Cristoforetti:

I’m inspired by your passion, enthusiasm, and great perspective on life. You’ve embraced the social media tools as a way to help share the story of space. You really “get it,” which makes life easy for those of us who want to help you do your job in the best way you can. Thanks for catching the vision. Your journey to space can be our journey too, if we can go with you through social media. Glad to see you on Google+ too!

Thanks ESA. I wave my flag (or your flag) in your honor!

ESA flag

ESA flag flying at ESRIN in Frascati

Final thought:

@Astro_Paolo Nespoli posed a question to tweeps after the ESRIN tweetup:

“What do you get out of social media. What does it do for you?”

We all gave him good reasons, but it struck me on the flight home that without social media, I would never have met any of the folks at ESA or DLR, nor would I have been invited to attend these super cool SpaceTweetups. I met my communications colleagues through Twitter, not through normal work channels.

But here’s the real reason we use social media: we get to share the space LUV and watch it grow exponentially.

@mattegianni tweet

I’ll leave you with a quick glimpse of Rome. I’m ready to go back and spend some time enjoying the sights!

Roma Colosseo

Roma Colosseo

Roma: Colonna Traiana

Roma: Colonna Traiana

Roma: Arco di Constantino

Roma: Arco di Constantino

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

Roma: Santa Maria Maggiore

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, NASA, social media, SpaceTweetup

Quake Rattle and Roll Week

What a week this has been. It started with an Earthquake DeeCee and ended with Hurricane Irene, which cancelled our girls’ weekend in NYC. Sandwiched in the middle, I began the Planning, Governance and Globalization PhD program at Virginia Tech, my daughter Carol turned 30, both daughters joined Twitter, AND we discovered a HUGE rat in my yard!!

But, let’s talk about Earthquake DeeCee!

Yes, I named her. If hurricanes get names, why not earthquakes?

Here’s my story: My daughter Steph and I were meeting with my LAUNCH.org teammates Diane Powell and Rachel Lawley at a restaurant in DC’s Eastern Market. Steph came to work with me so she could meet with her PhD advisor in DC. Rachel had just flown in from San Francisco. While we were chatting, our bench began to pitch back and forth. I watched Steph bounce about, nearly thrown off a couple of time. At first, I thought a truck hit the building. Then I thought perhaps an explosion rocked us, or that the subway derailed below us. But the movement didn’t stop. We kept rolling. My instinct was to get out of the building, but Rachel calmly told us to stay put. She advised us to take shelter under the table. Yet, we sat — stunned. Still swaying, I tweeted the message below, and looked on Twitter to see if anyone else was talking about our human roller-coaster experience.

Earthquake tweetNote: Please excuse the typo “on” instead of “in” — the ground was still moving while I typed.

What was amazing for me: Twitter confirmed it. Yep. We were in the middle of an earthquake. I was shocked to see tweets from NYC to North Carolina to New Jersey — all experiencing rumbles and rattles. The epicenter of the quake: Mineral, Virginia (or Lake Anna to locals). Only 67 miles from DC.

Quake tweet
Quake tweet
quake tweet

Animated quake-tweet map by Eric Fischer

Quake-tweet map by Eric Fischer

Here’s another animated gif of quake-related tweets, thanks to @brobof.

Much of the rest of the day, Steph and I both experienced “quake-sickness.” I was amazed that 30 seconds or more of quake, rattle, and roll could give me such stubborn motion sickness.

quake tweetWe returned home to find pictures knocked off the walls and things strewn about. The only real damage was one of my pinhole camera images. My cross suffered the most — the glass shattered. (Mother Earth persecuting my faith?) Yet, my faith remains intact. ;)

Hipstamatic image of earthquake damage

Quake damage: shattered glass on my pinhole Cross photo.

Post-quake thoughts:

1. Social media ROCKets! I didn’t have to turn on the radio or watch the news. Post-quake phone lines were snarled. Steph‘s text messages were delayed over an hour. But Twitter worked. My daughter Carol signed up for Twitter the morning of Quake DeeCee. She read my tweets, and knew I was ok.

quake tweet

2. My mother made a comment at the end of the day that put our crazy day in perspective: “We still have beds to sleep in tonight.” She was right. Though the earthquake put some new cracks in my walls and broke things, we are alive and well and have safe shelter.

My mother’s words add context to this thoughtful tweet from Japan — in the aftermath of their 9.0 earthquake:

quake tweetEarthquake DeeCee is a reminder to be thankful. We are richly blessed! 

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little STARDUST caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. — Henry David Thoreau

Before I close this post: Meet my two tweeting  daughters:

My 2 tweeting daughters

Carol @CarolKecil 

@CarolKecil

Steph @StephCBeck

@stephcbeckhttp://stephbeckblog.wordpress.com

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Space Pioneers Invade Capitol

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” — Roald Dahl

After each mission, our astronauts visit the NASA Centers and Washington DC to share their stories and thank the staff who supported them before, during and after their zero-G adventures. This week, the crews of Space Shuttle STS-134 and Space Station Expedition 26/27 came to town. They spent time visiting the hallowed halls of Congress, and stopped by NASA Headquarters to debrief employees.

Below is STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly introducing members of his crew: Pilot Greg “Box” Johnson, ESA’s Roberto “Ricky Bobby” Vittori, Mike “Spanky” Fincke;  as well as two members of his twin brother Scott‘s Space Station Expedition 26 and 27 crew: Cady Coleman and ESA’s Paolo Nespoli. STS-134 is missing two members: Drew Feustel, who is in Europe, and Greg Chamitoff, who is on vacation in Australia.

@ShuttleCDRKelly introduces STS-134 + Expedition 26/27 crew @ NASA HQ

@ShuttleCDRKelly introduces STS-134 + Expedition 26/27 crew @ NASA HQ

Greg "Box" Johnson, Roberto "Ricky Bobby" Vittori, Mike "Spanky" Fincke, Cady Coleman, Paolo Nespoli

STS-134: Pilot Greg Johnson, Roberto Vittori, Mike Fincke; Exp 26/27: Cady Coleman, Paolo Nespoli

The crew shared photos and video from the mission, and answered questions. Box Johnson talked about the violent ride to orbit on the Space Shuttle on top of seven million pounds of thrust. Spacewalker Mike Fincke talked about his final spacewalks during a Space Shuttle mission. Roberto and Paolo were the first two Italians in space at the same time. We saw a clip of their chat with Pope Benedict XVI, another first in space.

Pope Benedict XVI talking to STS-134 & Space Station crews

Pope Benedict XVI talking to STS-134 & Space Station crews

Paolo Nespoli: Disadvantage of Zero-G living -- losing your spoon.

Roberto Vittori: "If you close your eyes, you wake up where you don't want to be."

@Astro_Cady "We need lots of different faces up in space to inspire kids to dream

We had some special guests in the audience at NASA Headquarters for the briefing. @FlatSamantha was in the HOUSE!

@FlatSamantha posing with space suit at NASA HQ

@FlatSamantha posing with space suit at NASA HQ

You may not be aware, but STS-134 had a additional crew member: @FlatSamantha. Yes, @FlatSamantha went to space. Here’s a condensed version of @FlatSamantha’s space story. I first met @FlatSamantha at the STS-134 tweetup, a special guest of Doug White. After the STS-134 launch was delayed, Doug asked if @FlatSamantha could go with the crew to space. I contacted STS-134 Pilot Box Johnson to see if he could take a digital image of @FlatSamantha to space. He went one step further. He took a printed photo of @FlatSamantha with him to orbit, and snapped a photo of her picture with space as the backdrop. Too cool!

@FlatSamantha: Junior crew member for STS-134. Photo by Pilot Greg Johnson

@FlatSamantha: Junior crew member for STS-134. Photo by Pilot Greg "Box" Johnson.

Box brought the photo back home to Earth, and offered to deliver the “flown-in-space” picture of @FlatSamantha to “the-real-Samantha” in person. What a guy!!

@Astro_Box with @FlatSamantha and the real Samantha

@Astro_Box with @FlatSamantha and the real Samantha

Box posed for photos with Samantha’s family and friends, including @FlatSamantha’s NASA tweetup escort Doug @CPUguru White (seen on the far right). “The-real-Samantha” is easy to spot in red.

@Astro_Box + @FlatSamantha + Samantha + @CPUguru

@Astro_Box + @FlatSamantha + Samantha + @CPUguru @ NASA HQ.

Doug posted all his @FlatSamantha pics on Flickr. He’s got some great shots from the STS-134 launch tweetup and the visit to NASA Headquarters. Be sure to check them out. You can also read all his NASA tweetup blog posts, including Samantha’s story.

Tweet about Flickr streamAfter saying goodbye to Samantha, we headed upstairs for the office lunch with the crew. I sat with Mike Fincke. He’s simply adorable. He was the first to become a space dad while in orbit in 2004. His wife gave birth while he was in orbit for six months on the Space Station Expedition 9 mission. He also holds the record for most days in space for an American: 382 days. (Oh, and Mike thinks space smells like burned medal, rather than burned cookies.)

Spacewalker Mike Fincke

Spacewalker Mike Fincke @ NASA HQ office lunch

As he talked, I noticed his fingernails. I asked if his spacewalk damaged them. He told us how the nail laminate peeled off inside the glove while he was working. He said he could feel it, but it didn’t hurt. One nail looked like he’d smashed it with a hammer. I knew spacewalker lost nails, but I’d never seen it before.

Tweet about @AstroIronMike's fingernails

Having the crew come to town is always a highlight for me. I love hearing their stories. I love getting as close as I can to space. Our astronauts touch space. They look with glittering eyes at the world above us. They come back with answers to the greatest secrets hidden in the most unlikely places. They go to the extremes of where humans can go. They pave the way for others to follow.

Thank you space pioneers! You can invade our nation’s Capitol whenever you want. :)

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, NASA, social media, space

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

Life: Where’s my Debris Shield?

I haven’t posted an update in two months. I know. I know. I feel the guilt weighing heavily on me. My last post was during the STS-134 Tweetup. I never even downloaded the hundreds of iPhone pics I took of all the tweeps. Sorry guys. And here we are on the heels of our last Space Shuttle mission tweetup: STS-135 Atlantis. NEXT week!!

STS-135 crew portrait

STS-135 crew: Rex Walheim, Pilot Doug Hurley, Commander Chris Ferguson, Sandy Magnus

So here’s my list of excuses:

  • I returned from the last launch to a house consumed by voracious weeds,
  • my Mother returned from Zambia,
  • my daughter, Carol, bought/moved into her first home,
  • a project at work required 24/7 attention,
  • I rediscovered my bicycle, and
  • my brain was fried.

In two days, my daughter Steph returns from her South African adventure. I’m thrilled beyond words to have her back home while she pursues her PhD. Skype is great, but face to face is much better. We’ve been busy trying to rearrange the house to make sure Steph has a place to spread out and study.

Which brings me to why I have time to post this. I’m on sick leave. I experienced an unpleasant encounter with falling debris (ceramic vase) which I unsuccessfully avoided.

If only I had Mission Control to monitor threatening debris and maneuver me out of the way — like they did for the crew of Space Station only this morning.

Unlike me, the crew received warning in time to take cover in the Soyuz spacecraft docked to Station. The debris passed without incident, and they returned to their stations to get on with their daily schedules. I, on the other hand, experienced a direct hit.

Really, you’ll never want me on a long-distance mission. I attract calamity. Yes, I’m the accident-queen. Only two weeks ago, I engaged in battle with angry ground wasps in my garden. Two days ago, I attracted a vase from the top of the refrigeration — which had held those very flowers from my garden that the wasps tried to protect.

@FlatSamantha "Next time wear your space suit @bethbeck - it'll keep those wasps from stinging you and help beat the heat!"

Right now, I’m awaiting word on whether or not my ankle is broken. Either way, the doctor has me off my feet with the offending leg elevated. Which, I must say, severely cramps my lifestyle. Sigh.

In perspective, though, I think my calamities are God’s way to get me to slow down.

I tend to live a “shot-from-a-cannon” life. I’m always in the middle of multiple projects at home, as any homeowner will understand. At work…well, we won’t even talk about that.

Now that I’m forced to slow down — ok, grind to a halt — I can take a moment to reflect. The yard looks amazing. Steph boards a plane tomorrow to come home. We’re about to celebrate our last Shuttle mission — which, though sad, is still an amazing accomplishment. And the coolest thing about getting hurt: a CALL from SPACE wishing me well — thanks to Expedition 27/28 crewmember Ron Garan, Mr. Fragile Oasis!

If you haven’t had a chance to browse Ron’s brainchild, Fragile Oasis, take a moment to join the community. Submit your own Earth-based project and if you get all your friends/colleagues/family to vote for it, you can get a picture from space.

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying views of Earth (my backyard) as I ice my ankle and keep it propped up on pillows. Maybe someday I’ll get my own PDS…otherwise known as Personal Debris Shield.

Planters in my yard

Container gardening adds color in barren corners.

Planters in my yard

Cluster of planters in my yard.

Tricycle Planter in my yard

Tricycle Planter in my yard

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Filed under Africa, Earth, NASA, social media, space, technology, tweet-up

STS-134 NASA Tweetup: Day 2

Day 2 of the STS-134 tweetup started with great hope for an afternoon launch. I passed this car in the parking lot. LUV it!!

Space Shuttle Team: Doing What Others Dream

Space Shuttle Team: Doing What Others Dream

What a day. We started with a NASA Tweetup marriage proposal and ended with a launch scrub. Oh, and a visit by the President of the United States and First Family somewhere in between.

NASA Tweetup Proposal @tempegirl @chriscardinal

NASA Tweetup Wedding Proposal: Chris Cardinal @chriscardinal + Nina Tallman @tempegirl

Nina Tallman accepted Chris Cardinal's wedding proposal

Nina Tallman said YES to Chris Cardinal's wedding proposal

We took our traditional NASA Tweetup Countdown Clock pic. What a good looking group of tweeps.

STS-134 NASA Tweetup Launch Clock portrait

STS-134 NASA Tweetup Launch Clock portrait. Photo credit: NASA/Paul Alers

Good luck finding yourself in this shot, tweeps. I’m sitting crosslegged in front in white pants. They weren’t quite so white after the shot. ;)

Our Brits celebrated the Royal Wedding in their very own way — complete with flag-waving in front of the Countdown Clock. They are hoping to “launch” Royal Kate and William into wedded bliss. At least, that’s my interpretation.

Brits @tristamsparkes @jackdearlove @DrLucyRogers

Flag-waving Brits @tristamsparkes @jackdearlove @DrLucyRogers

@JackDearLove trying to take over NASA tweetup

@JackDearLove trying to take over NASA tweetup ;)

@JackDearLove's flag

@JackDearLove's flag

We had great lineup of speakers, starting off with Astronaut Ricky Arnold. He’s somewhere in the sea of tweeps in the photo above. Here are a few great quotes tweeted out during his talk. The Barbies were all so excited. Ken too!

@VenusBarbie & friends

@VenusBarbie & friends

@jenniferHuber Ricky Arnold food tweet
@SusanMazza quoting Ricky Arnold
@michaelbmore quoting Ricky Arnold
@TimLillard quoting Astronaut Ricky Arnold

NASA’s Education Chief, Leland @Astro_Flow Melvin came to speak next.

@SpaceTeam tweet about @Astro_flow
@schollem lego tweet about @Astro_flow
@brendajburrell quotes @Astro_Flow
@CarsonSkinner quotes @Astro_Flow

Tweeps heard more about NASA’s activities with LEGO from Daire McCabe, LEGO designer, then heard from Lt. Col. Patrick Barrett, Launch Weather Officer.

@DrLucyRogers LEGO mission patch
@NancyBroden weather tweet

We broke for lunch then lined up along the “road to the launch pad” to wave to the STS-134 crew as they pass by in the AstroVan. But, alas, they drove past, turned around and went back where they came. The dreaded SCRUB!

AstroVan headed to Launch Pad A

AstroVan headed to Launch Pad A

AstroVan returning Crew

AstroVan returning Crew

We went back to the NASA tweetup tent to wait for more information about the next launch attempt. The President and First Family toured the Kennedy Space Center and met with the crew. Some of our tweeps waved to them as they passed by.

POTUS with STS-134 crew

POTUS with STS-134 crew. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

We found out that the earliest next launch attempt will be Monday at 2:34 p.m. EDT. Many of the tweeps had to say goodbye, sadly. But not before lots of goodbye pics like the one below with the LEGO mission patch.

Space Tweeps

Space Tweeps

We packed up, making plans to start this show again on Monday, if all goes well. Our DC Twitter rep, Adam Sharp, was the very last to leave around 6:30 pm. He has a meeting Monday and can’t stay for the next launch attempt.

Last to leave the tweetup tent....

@Sharp: Last to leave the tweetup tent....

Here’s my last look:

NASA Tweetup Tent Sign

NASA Tweetup Tent Sign

Looks like Seth Green, Clare Grant, Nicole Solomon and Abe Benrubi will be coming back for Monday’s launch attempt. WooHoo! (BTW, thanks Nicole for strongly encouraging me to using Hipstamatic pics. They really are so much fun!

@SethGreen tweet

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Filed under AIDs, Bethany House Trust, NASA, social media, space, tweet-up

STS-134 NASA Tweetup: Day 1

Day 1 of the STS-134 tweetup! We started sunny and ended with a lightning storm.

Welcome Sign at NASA Tweetup Tent

Welcome Sign at NASA Tweetup Tent

Space tweeps arrived one by one, and two by two, and more. Mascots are popular at tweetups. We have @Flat Samantha, @VenusBarbie, and we even have @Space_Spider, who will be flying to space on STS-134. Her Earth-bound spider kin came to visit us at the tweetup. We have bunnies and bears, but no rubber chickens this tweetup.

Cynthia Foust @32Teeth

Cynthia Foust @32Teeth

@News_Barbie

@VenusBarbie

@FlatSamantha

@Space_Spider

We even have a few TWelebrities to sweeten the deal, as if coming to a Space Shuttle launch wasn’t sweet enough. :)

@LeVarBurton tweeting

@LeVarBurton tweeting

Note: our TWelebrities are gracious and warm. They eagerly take pictures with the tweeps. LeVar Burton rescued a lost tweetup badge, delivered it to its owner, and autographed it. Seth Green asked everyone to autograph his “It’s Hard To Tweet In A Spacesuit” poster. Clare is totally space-geeking OUT! Abe is a big sweetheart. And…Nicole, bless her heart, cleaned my iphone lens — since she noticed my Twitpics seemed blurry. You guys ROCKet!! Thanks for being a part of our tweetup community.

@SethGreen with @VenusBarbie @DataChick

@SethGreen with @VenusBarbie + @DataChick

@FlatSamantha tweet

@FlatSamantha tweet

We have an amazing group of 150 tweeters from around the world. Very few knew each other until today. The chatter in the room is evidence of how quickly the NASA tweetup experience bonds us together in community.

Tent full of tweeters!

Tent full of tweeters!

We’ve seen tweetup romances. Tweetup career changes. And perhaps, we’ll claim our first tweetup baby! Yes, today I learned that one of our tweeters may be pregnant. My lips are sealed until she gives me the thumbs up to share her good news. I promise I won’t say a word about it…outside this blog.

To enhance the tweetup experience, we brought our Photo Op Spacesuit (@DrLucyRogers modeling suit below), and Photo Op banners of Mission Control and the KSC Firing Room. Our JPL buddies brought 3D images of Mars, along with souvenir 3D glasses.

@DrLucyRogers

@DrLucyRogers

@Flashman

@neemaamini @pedramamini

@neemaamini @pedramamini

We had great lineup of speakers for the tweeps. And even more on Launch day!

NASA's Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati

NASA's Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati

NASA's Endeavour Flow Director Dana Hutcherson

NASA's Endeavour Flow Director Dana Hutcherson

NASA's Tara Ruttley @SpaceMama

@Astro_Clay Anderson

@Astro_Clay Anderson

@SethGreen tweeting @Astro_Clay-isms

@SethGreen tweeting @Astro_Clay-isms

After all the speakers, we loaded onto busses for our tour of the Shuttle Landing Facility, the Vehicle Assembly Building (where we saw STS-135 Atlantis tank and Solid Rocket Boosters), and the Saturn V facility. We returned for a short break before our planned visit to Launch Pad A for the retraction of the Rotating Service Structure from Endeavour. But Mother Nature intervened in a spectacular way — preventing our trip to the pad.

NASA's Bill Ingalls' Lightning photo

NASA's Bill Ingalls' Lightning photo

But, all is well. The storm passed. We’re still on track to launch at the regularly scheduled time: Friday at 3:47:55 p.m. EDT.

BBC's @JackDearLove tweet

BBC's @JackDearLove tweet

We start again early tomorrow morning. (And if I stay up any longer writing this post, I’ll be able to watch the royal wedding!)

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