Category Archives: tweet-up

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

2011: My Top 10 iPhone Travel Fotos

In days gone by, I never left home without my camera bag stocked with film and lenses. With an iPhone, I travel so much lighter. I’m totally hooked on the hipstamatic app, which allows me to create a funky style without a darkroom or chemicals. With a simple shake of my iPhone, I can change camera lenses and film, though my favorite is the Hipstamatic John S lens and Kodot XGrizzled film.

Here are a few shots from my 2011 travels to the Space Tweetups in Germany and Italy, and the NASA tweetups at the Kennedy Space Center. The final two are from Washington DC, where I work and play. Enjoy!

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Space Tweetup: German Space Day train

Space Tweetup: German Space Day train

Frankfort Airport

Frankfort Airport

Roma Colosseo

Roma Colosseo

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy

ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy

Cocoa Beach Sand Castles

Cocoa Beach Sand Castles

Space Coast Space Melons

Space Coast Space Melons

White House

White House

Washington Monument

Taxi window view of Washington Monument

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Filed under NASA, space, SpaceTweetup, tweet-up

SpaceTweetup: #Awesome

I keep trying to post my thoughts and photos about the first-ever European tweetup in Cologne, Germany and a smaller tweetup with @Astro_Paolo Nespoli, @Astro_Cady Coleman, and  @AstroSamantha Cristoforetti at the ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy. Way too many great conversations and experiences to slow down and write. Now that I’m back home in DC, I have no more excuses.

One word sums up the week: AWESOME!

SpaceTweetup stage

SpaceTweetup stage. Cologne, Germany

Just so you know, I was informed by my European tweeps that they were making a bit of fun at our American enthusiasm by using the word awesome. As it turned out, awesome became the catch-word of the event — with it’s own hashtag. I think enthusiasm is actually contagious, if given the proper petri dish. Right @twISSt? ;)

Kudos to Marco Trovatello and Henning Krause of the Germany Space Agency DLR and Fulvio DriganiErica Rolfe, Daniel Scuka, Andreas Schepers of the European Space Agency ESA. You guys ROCKet!

Here are some highlights of the Space Day Tweetup in Cologne:

Enthusiast tweeps waiting to board the bus.

Enthusiast tweeps waiting to board the bus.

Cat herder ESA's Erica Rolfe

ESA's FABulous tweep-herder @EricaRolfe

ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup Welcome

ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup Welcome by Marco, Andreas, and Fulvio.

ESA's @DanielScuka is tweeting for @ESAoperations.

ESA's @DanielScuka tweeting for @ESAoperations.

We headed out to the tarmac to see the A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world, and Sofia aircraft, or Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. We got a glimpse of the German version of Air Force One for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (What is it with wet tweetups lately? Did Stephanie Schierholz and I bring the STS-135 rain with us?)

German version of the Air Force 1

German version of the Air Force 1

Sofia telescope

Sofia telescope

We headed back to the tweetup tent to meet the Expedition 26-27 and STS-134 astronauts. One problem, we separated from the group somehow. Here are my LostMates!

Lost with me on the grounds of German Space Day: @SpaceMike @Timmermansr @JohnnyMojo

Lost with me on the grounds of German Space Day: @SpaceMike @Timmermansr @JohnnieMojo

This little train came by to give us a lift.

This little train came by to give us a lift. Well, not exactly...

This little magic train appeared. I thought maybe it would lead us back to basecamp, but no dice. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how we found our way back to the tweetup tent. Perhaps it was the huge inflatable astronaut that guided us home. (Or the smell of coffee and pastries back in the TWent!)

Large inflatable Spacewalker at German Space Day

Large inflatable Spacewalker at German Space Day

SpaceTweetup Coffee Bar

SpaceTweetup Coffee Bar

Before starting the program again, we assembled at the stage for a group photo. Just then, @Astro_Paolo appeared in the tent, followed by @Astro_Cady, @Astro_Box, @AstroIronMike, @Astro_Taz, and Drew Feustel. One by one, they plopped down in the middle of the chaos to pose with us for the group photo. Totally unscripted. Totally AWEsome!

SpaceTweetup Portrait with Astronauts Sprinkled in. Photo: ESA

SpaceTweetup Portrait with Astronauts Sprinkled in. Photo: ESA

Here is a list of the speakers from the agenda. As you can see, the DLR/ESA folks kept us hopping — in a wonderful way.

SpaceTweetup speakers

SpaceTweetup speakers

I lost track of the number of astronauts who visited the tent during the day. Ten or more, maybe? ESA astronauts train at a facility on site, which made it easy for them to drop by. I was thrilled to meet new ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst, @Astro_Luca Parmitano, and @AstroSamantha Cristoforetti, as well as veteran astronauts like Thomas Reiter, ESA’s Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

And, you know how it goes…when astronauts show up, tweeps leap into action…as in Lights, Camera, Action!

ESA/DLR SpaceTweetup TWaparazzi!

TWaparazzi!

New ESA astronaut @AstroSamantha

New ESA astronaut @AstroSamantha

@DataChick brought @VenusBarbie and friends

@DataChick's @VenusBarbie and friends listen to @Astro_Luca

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz encourages ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst to tweet

NASA's Stephanie Schierholz encourages ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst to tweet

I loved hearing new ESA astronaut @AstroSamantha tell the crowd that her inspiration has been @Astro_Paolo, @Astro_Ron, and his brainchild @FragileOasis. WooHoo for Fragile Oasis!! AND, if we can work out an agreement with our ESA colleagues, we hope to include ESA bloggernauts on the site. Shhhh. That’s just between us…. 

Stephanie Schierholz and I had an opportunity to share insights from our NASA tweetup experience. Here’s what tweeps look like via my iPhone Hipstamatic app Helga lens. Quite surreal and grainy. Or maybe it was all a dream.

Our very own TWaparazzi!

Our very own TWaparazzi! @mfrissen @gravinaut @hollandSpaceCen

With Space Day in full swing, we shared the facility with 80,000 visitors — adding to the excitement and frenzy.

DLR balloon in the crowd outside the SpaceTweetup Tent.

DLR balloon in the crowd outside the SpaceTweetup Tent.

Jeff Wallace @RocketMan528 carried @Camilla_SDO to Europe with him. Camilla is quite the cult hero. Space groupies rushed to take photos with her (including my Star Wars buddies and me). I don’t know if you can tell, but the woman in this photo is crying. I’ve never seen anything like it. Crying, just because she got to hold a rubber chicken (a very lovable rubber chicken, I might add).

SpaceTweetup @Camilla_SDO Fan

SpaceTweetup @Camilla_SDO Fan (They even dressed alike!)

Star Wars characters invaded the tweetup tent!

Magnet @Camilla_SDO collects Star Wars + NASA

I have so much more to share. Time and space get in my way. I’m still processing and absorbing. I have so many new tweeps to connect with. Without social media, I would never have met any of you out in the virtual universe — like my long-time Twitter buddies @Cosmo4U and @Amoroso, whom I met in person for the first time.

Our world is getting smaller, but our connections are limitless!

@SpaceRaceKids + @Timmermansr sharing the space luv!!

@SpaceRaceKids + @Timmermansr sharing the space luv!!

For more information about the tweetup, you can read ESA’s excellent blog and their Flickr stream.

I leave you with a few iconic pics of Germany.

Church next to my hotel.

Church next to my hotel.

The view outside the train station!

The view outside the train station!

Yummy Pretzels!

Yummy Pretzels!

Very Matrix-y: Remember to look UP inside the Frankfurt Airport

Very Matrix-y: Make sure you look UP inside the Frankfurt Airport

Next post: ESA/ESRIN tweetup in Frascati, Italy.

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Filed under astronaut, NASA, space, SpaceTweetup, tweet-up

Welcome to Gravityland @Astro_Ron

Moonrise

Ron Garan's Moonrise from Space Station September 12, 2011

Astronaut Ron Garan departs Space Station Thursday, September 15. I know his family is elated. He’s been gone for six months. I have to admit. I’m having the opposite reaction. I’ve truly enjoyed his tweets, twitpics, blogs, vlogs…and, yes, phone calls from space.

As founder of Fragile Oasis, Ron tirelessly provided fresh content for NASA’s fledgling website to ensure we tell the story of space in a way that inspires Earth-bound citizens to want to make this world a better place. From the unique point of view only our astronauts can provide, we learn about our blue planet — a fragile oasis suspended in an extremely hostile universe. Fragile Oasis features projects submitted by the community to contribute to a better tomorrow. Take a moment to browse the awe-inspiring projects on the site.

Fragile Oasis

Ron is the Founding Bloggernaut for Fragile Oasis.

“The focus is not on the problems of the world but on how the problems of the world are being solved by amazing people.” — @FragileOasis

I first met Ron at our LAUNCH:Water forum, when Ron’s Manna Energy was selected as one of ten disruptive innovations. I had no idea he was an astronaut. How cool is that! When he went to Star City to train for his time on Space Station, Elyse David and I both received phone calls from Russia with a new brainchild: Fragile Oasis. And now you can join Fragile Oasis too — simply by signing in through Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.

I have to say, working with Ron brought some really cool perks — like photos from space.

Photo of my family in Soweto flown in space

My daughter Steph, my mother and I are visiting a day care in Soweto, South Africa.

A green screen Space Station photo of me in the actual Space Station

A green screen Space Station photo of me in the actual Space Station. Oh the irony.

The photo immediately above is from NASA’s Galactic Explorer Module, one of my first creations in my current job as Outreach Manager. We created a green screen kiosk that allows individuals and groups to go to space and back in 30 seconds (ok, not really, but it’s as close as we can offer on the ground) and email their photo/video to friends and family. This was years before social media hit the scene — but our early attempt at viral messaging.

This green screen photo of me with Space Station as a backdrop is now up in space inside the real Space Station. Too cool for words!

Ron thrilled dozens of space tweeps when he called to say hello at our STS-135 tweetup. He’s called each one of our Fragile Oasis team members from space. It seems like a simple thing to do, but a phone call from space is just over the moon! Well not literally, but you get my point.

Ron, we’ll miss having you in space. You’ve been an amazing ambassador. I’m sure you’ll have us running around the moment you climb out of your Soyuz capsule in Kazakhstan this week. See you soon.

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, Fragile Oasis, LAUNCH, NASA, space, tweet-up

Space Shuttle: Wheels Stop

“In life, there are no ordinary moments. Most of us never really recognize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening.” — Kathleen Magee

One week ago today, STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis landed on Earth for the final time.

STS-135 Final Space Shuttle Landing Guest Button

STS-135 Final Space Shuttle Landing Guest Button.

Last Thursday, I left my Cocoa Beach hotel at 3:00 a.m. to head out to the Kennedy Space Center to meet the space tweeps who would share this historic moment STS-135 Landing Tweetup with us.

I’d never seen a Space Shuttle landing before. This would be my first…and last.

After checking in all our landing tweeps, we boarded the bus around 4:30 a.m. — Zero-Dark Thirty!!! We waited for news of STS-135 Atlantis in orbit. Only at Deorbit Burn could we head out to the landing strip.

Chris our KSC Escort wait for new of Atlantis' Deorbit Burn

Chris our KSC Escort waits for news of Atlantis' Deorbit Burn

Ah the anticipation. But still, it was really, REALLY early. Thankfully, some came well-equipped with Red Bull and Energy Drinks!!

Ching-Yao Yu @nutzareus pointing to Energy Drinks

@nutzareus pointing to @sharkb8t Energy Drinks

@sharkb8t is a zombie without her energy drinks

@sharkb8t is a zombie without her energy drinks!

Many of our friends showed up — some flat, some furry, some human: @CraftLass, @WoodToast, @MouthTheTribble, @Astro_Fuzz, @FlatSamantha, and Camilla_SDO

@CraftLass & her husband @WoodToast w/ space critters

@CraftLass & her husband @WoodToast w/ space critters.

We received news of Deorbit Burn! WooHoo! Our bus driver pulled out of the parking lot. We were on our way.

Space Tweeps on way to Final Space Shuttle Landing

Deorbit Burn means NASA Tweetup Bus is moving!

Not long into our journey, we slowed to a crawl in snarled “final landing” traffic. @WiredForFlight and @FlightSoft checked an iPad app to track our progress on the road.

@WiredForFlight @FlightSoft watching our progress in Landing Traffic

@WiredForFlight + @FlightSoft watching our progress in Landing Traffic.

Once we arrived, we headed to the viewing stands. I was hoping the sun would defy nature and rise early so we could see Atlantis drop from the skies. But no.  Still dark.

Shuttle Landing Tower

Shuttle Landing Tower

As we waited for Atlantis to land, the Expedition 28 crew onboard the International Space Station streaked across the sky at 17,500 mph. What an amazing treat to wave to @Astro_Ron Garan, Mike @Astro_Aggie Fossum and their crewmates 220 miles overhead.

Space Station crossed sky just before STS-135 landing.

Space Station crossed sky just before STS-135 landing.

Atlantis landed just a few minutes after Station crossed the sky. I expected to cry, but instead, I squealed and giggled. This was my first landing. It was more first than last to me. I felt incredibly giddy.

Tweet: Job Well Done America!

What a treat to be part of history!

We all boarded the bus again, and said goodbye back at the media badging building. @WinObs rode off into the sunrise on his bike, but before he left, he posed with @Camilla_SDO.

@WinObs post-landing w/ @Camilla_SDO

@Camilla_SDO gets around. Here she is with @WinObs.

I headed back to Cocoa Beach to check out of my hotel and grab breakfast with Madi Sengupta and Mary Lynne Dittmar. Next we headed over to the launch pads of our past — Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury. The Apollo pad is well cared for. Gemini and Mercury, not so much. Walking among the ruins, I imagined ghosts of rocket boys with crew cuts and slide rulers who paved the way for the Space Shuttle generation.

Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury launch pads.

Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury launch pads.

One of the highlights of the day: attending the employee celebration with Atlantis post flight! Here is my first view of Atlantis, the star of the party.

Employees salute Atlantis, the final Space Shuttle.

Employees salute Atlantis, the final Space Shuttle.

Atlantis Post-Landing

Here she is: Atlantis!!!

Employees sign STS-135 banner.

Employees sign STS-135 banner.

My "mark" on history.

My "mark" on history.

Thank you Stephanie Schierholz for making the landing tweetup happen. What a glorious day. Sad because it’s the end. But what a wonderful 30 years we’ve had!

Time to head to the airport. On the way, I pulled over to take a picture of space melons. Only on the space coast…! ;)

Space Melons: only on the space coast.

Space Melons: only on the space coast.

On the flight home, the flight attendant read aloud a note someone gave him, recognizing the last Space Shuttle landing and the end of an era, as well as the NASA Administrator in the front row and other NASA employees on the flight. The passengers broke into applause. Tears streamed down my face. The end. It finally hit me.

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Filed under Earth, federal government, NASA, space, tweet-up

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

Hipstamatic View of Final Liftoff

Space Shuttle Atlantis on Launch Pad A

The very last Space Shuttle, Atlantis, soared to the heavens through cloudy skies on Friday, June 8 carrying STS-135 crew of four: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus, and Rex Walheim. Waiting to greet them on Space Station: Expedition 28 Commander Andrey Borisenko, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa, Alexander Samokutyaev and Sergei Volkov.

I watched liftoff with fellow space tweeps at the Kennedy Space Center press site where we hosted our final Space Shuttle mission tweetup. More on the tweetup in my next post.

I wanted to share these images with you taken my iPhone Hipstamatic app (thanks to Nicole Solomon, who told me NEVER to post pictures again without Hipstamatic). Now I have a forever memory of Atlantis via this little slideshow.

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Think UNthinkable Thoughts

“To achieve the impossible, it is PRECISELY the UNthinkable that MUST be thought.” Tim Robbins

How many times have you shared an idea, only to be told it would never work? While you’re busy counting, I can tell you I lost count several lifetimes ago.

Visionaries “envision” the end product in their heads. Realizing that vision, now that’s the heart of the adventure. The barriers to success are built upon layers of “no way” or “you’re crazy” or “not on my watch.”

Think about the dreamers who designed the magnificent reusable space vehicle we know as the Space Shuttle. Though they believed winged flight from space back to Earth was possible, could they ever have imagined 30 years of reliable service? Yes, we’ve experienced two tragedies, but we’ve also witnessed 20,952 orbits around Earth by the fleet — prior to next week’s final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Time in space for 134 flights: 1,320 days, one hour, 32 minutes, 44 seconds.

Space Shuttle Atlantis rolling out to the launch pad for her final flight. NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space Shuttle Atlantis rolling out to the launch pad for her final flight. NASA/Bill Ingalls

Prior to the final mission, STS-135, the five Orbiters traveled 537,114,016 miles.

  • Columbia was the first to fly into orbit carrying John Young and Bob Crippen on April 12, 1981. She flew 27 complete missions for 121,696,993 miles and 300 days in space. The vehicle and crew were lost at the end of the STS-107, her 28th mission. (My personal story: I worked at NASA Headquarters in DC, but was in Texas with my daughter Steph for a college visit at The University of Texas. My sister lived north of Dallas. One of her friends from JSC called to ask us to go outside and look for the Orbiter in the sky. They had lost contact. Horror of horror. We only saw contrails.)
  • Challenger‘s maiden flight was STS-6 on April 4, 1983. She flew nine complete missions for 995 miles and 62 days in space, before exploding at lift off on her 10th mission, STS-51L, carrying Christa McAuliffe, our first Teacher in Space. (My story: I was on maternity leave from the Johnson Space Center after the birth of baby daughter Steph. I saw the story on the news. I attended the Memorial Service with President Reagan. I came back from maternity leave to the accident investigation.) 
  • Discovery flew her maiden voyage in August 1984 with STS-41D. She served as the Return to Flight missions after both accidents. She flew 148,221,675 miles, 39 flights, and 365 days (ONE FULL YEAR) in space. As the most seasoned Orbiter, Discovery retired first following the STS-133 mission.
  • Endeavour is the baby of the fleet. She was the last built, ordered to replace Challenger. She flew her first mission, STS-49, in May, 1992. She retired second after flying 122,883,151 miles and 25 missions and 299 days in space through her final mission, STS-134.
  • Atlantis flew first on October 3, 1985 during the STS-51J mission. She is the last operational vehicle in the Space Shuttle fleet. Prior to this final mission, she’s completed 32 flights and 120,650,907 miles and 293 days in space.

Over the last 30 years, the five Orbiters carried human cargo to space and back: 848 before this final flight of Atlantis, which carries a crew of four: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Wilheim. At the end of the Space Shuttle program, 852 humans can boast about riding a rocket to space and glider back to planet Earth. Think about the stories they’ll tell their grandchildren and great grandchildren — about a time when humans allowed themselves to think unthinkable thoughts. And when they did, they created something amazingly awesome: a reusable winged space plane.

STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis on launch pad. Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

STS-135 Space Shuttle Atlantis on launch pad. Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

If we keep thinking unthinkable thoughts, we can do unimaginable things and go unforeseenable [yes, I know this is not a word, but I like it] places. 

But it takes work:

  • Parents, believe your kids can do more than seems possible. Give them a leg up: support them even if it means sacrifice on your part.
  • Teachers, open your students’ eyes to the wonder of the universe. One of them may be the first to build a personal spacecraft or step on Mars without the need for a bulky spacesuit.
  • Bosses, give your employees an opportunity to create new products and processes. Allow them the flexibility to think outside the box without fear of retribution.

Even as we close out the Space Shuttle program, tomorrow holds great promise if we dare to dream it. So, let’s get to it!

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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