Tag Archives: doug wheelock

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

NASA Tweetup: Rocket Star @Astro_Wheels

After seeing Doug Wheelock in action this week in Washington DC, I’d like to give him a new title: Space Ambassador! Doug, aka @Astro_Wheels, shared heartfelt stories of his time in space during our latest NASA Tweetup, March 16, 2011.

@Astro_Wheels Living the Dream

Doug and Tracy Caldwell Dyson came to DC to debrief NASA employees on their Space Station Expedition missions, visit with Members of Congress and Hill staffers, and talk with space tweeps. We haven’t convinced Tracy about tweeting yet, but we might just wear her down after all — now that Doug is a fervent social media convert.

Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson & Doug Wheelock

Astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson & Doug Wheelock at Capitol Visitor Center.

Doug joined an auditorium-full of space tweeps at the NASA tweetup. He shared stories and answered questions for several hours. Then he stayed to sign autographs and pose for pictures until the last tweep left the building. Wow. What a guy!

Tweetup Crowd Surrounds Astro_Wheels

Space Tweeps Surrounds Astro_Wheels

Tweetup Line for Astro_Wheels autograph

Doug gave them reason to stand in a long line for one-on-one time. During the Tweetup, he shared his awe and wonder about the vastness of space and the beauty of our home planet. He said that if he’d lived on another planet in the universe, Earth would have been the place he would most want to travel to.

Astro_Wheels describes Earth's ColorIn order to share his experience with those of us who will never leave this planet, he asked Mission Control for a camera lens and setting that most mimics what the human eye can see — so that he could let us see space through his eyes.  But, he told us, no photo does the Cupola views any justice. The broad brush strokes of auroras captivated his attention, and many photos as well. I’m obsessed with auroras, so I’m glad he shared so many with us.

@Astro_Wheels describes Auroras

@Astro_Wheels describes Earth@Astro_Wheels describes EarthWe learned details about life in space, like the violent ride to space on the Space Shuttle and the explosive return from space inside a Russian Soyuz. He described the smells of space: a musty odor like a wine cellar in the Russian modules, sterile computer-fan smell of the U.S. modules, and the burnt match smell of space that lingers on spacesuits for days. When asked how he felt after coming back to a gravity-filled life, he said he felt it most in his neck — from having to hold his head up.

@Astro_Wheels describes space smell

@Astro_Wheels describes Soyuz landing

@Astro_Wheels describes sore neckThings break on Station, making life “interesting” off planet. Tracy told NASA employees earlier in the day that residents of Space Station don’t have the luxury of zipping over to Home Depot for supplies. Doug recounted the experience on July 31st when the Space Station ammonia pump shut down, and life slowly drained from the orbiting spacecraft. Working closely with Mission Control on a fix, Doug and Tracy saved Station through a series of unplanned space walks. Space walks are are extremely physically challenging. Even though everything floats in space, Newton’s Laws of Motion still apply. Doug told us the hardest part of working is space is learning to maneuver with a light touch, rather than a push.

@Astro_Wheels describes ammonia pump repair

@Astro_Wheels describes ammonia leakDoug told us how his dreams changed using social media. Twitter allowed him to enter into a global conversation about space. Though he can’t take us all with him to space, social media tools allow him to bring us along for the virtual ride.

@Astro_Wheels describes hugeness of space

Describing Space, Astro_Wheels is speechless

Doug encouraged all of us to nurture the dreams of our children. They are our future, after all.

@Astro_Wheels talking to a future Mars-onaut at the NASA tweetup

@Astro_Wheels talking to a future Mars-onaut at the NASA tweetup

Thanks Doug for caring enough to share your amazing experiences in space. You ROCKet!

Tweet stats from @astro_wheels tweetupLast thought: who thinks the Space Station Expedition patch looks like Darth Vader’s helmet? ;)

Expedition 24 Mission Patch

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Filed under Earth, NASA, OpenNASA, social media

Launch: Roving Reporter-nauts

I noticed something really amazing last night during the Expedition 25 Soyuz launch to Space Station: social media tools are transforming our astronauts into behind-the-scenes reporters.

And what a wonderful thing!

Soyuz Launch by @AstroIronMike

Soyuz Launch by @AstroIronMike

Seeing a picture of the Soyuz launch from Astronaut Mike Fincke‘s iphone just seems to feel more intimate and amazing than images taken by professional photographers.

With @Astro_Ron Garan on the backup crew, we get a glimpse inside the inner circle of an exclusive club — those who strap themselves onto rockets for the ride of their lives into space. We get to see what they see. How cool to see astronauts reporting the experience for their fellow astronauts.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really loving this new social media communication revolution.

Here are a few twitpics Ron posted last night:

Astronaut Scott Kelly Receiving Traditional Blessing

Astronaut Scott Kelly Receiving Traditional Blessing

Special Boots for Scott

Special Boots for Scott

Ron and Scott pre-launch

Ron and Scott pre-launch

I especially love this pic (below) from behind the glass. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode, “People are Alike All Over,” where an astronaut  finds himself a caged exhibit in a Martian zoo. I wonder if that what it feels like just before launch….

Behind the Glass Walls

Behind the Glass Walls

Soyuz in Sight

Soyuz in Sight

Long Walk to Launch
I love this trippy pic of the walk to Soyuz.
Soyuz on Launch pad

Soyuz on Launch pad

Ron will launch to the International Space Station on a Soyuz in March 2011. You can follow his training on the Fragile Oasis website. He keeps adding new bloggernauts to his astro-community. STS-133 Nicole Stott and Expedition 25 Doug Wheelock are already onboard. Astronaut Don Pettit is gearing up to post hundreds of Science in Space articles and videos.

The Fragile Oasis objectives:

  • Get the word out that the International Space Station is an incredible global asset;
  • Highlight the scientific advancements being accomplished on the International Space Station;
  • Inspire students to academic excellence;
  • Allow people to “experience” living and working in space vicariously through crew; members currently living on the International Space Station; and
  • Use the unique orbital perspective to inspire people to improve life on our planet.

Soon we’ll have a community component on Fragile Oasis that you can be part of. Stay tuned for more features in the next weeks and months. Ron has a HUGE vision for sharing the relevance of space with those of us on Earth.

I’m so thrilled to see our astronauts embrace new technology to leverage ways to let the rest of us join them on their journeys. Again, what a WONderful thing!!

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Filed under astronaut, culture, Earth, leadership, NASA, social media, space, technology

Space: @Astro_Wheels Point of View

Though many love to bash Twitter as meaningless chatter, I beg to differ. I think true character is revealed through a mere 140 characters — humor, anger, heart and soul. Meaningless chatter? Yes, that too. But I’m less inclined to follow a chatterhead…or TWatterhead, in Twitter-speak.

As an example of why Twitter matters, I want to introduce you to our new Twitternaut Doug Wheelock, better known as @Astro_Wheels to those of us in the Twittersphere. Doug just launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 15 with fellow NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin to join the rest of the Expedition 24 crew on the International Space Station. Doug will stay on Space Station as Expedition 25 Commander with the next crew change-out via Soyuz.

Note: Using the Soyuz spacecraft as our Space Station transport, we launch and land three crewmembers at a time. With six crew inhabiting our Station at any given time, each crewmember serves on two Expedition missions during their 5-6 month orbital assignment.

The Right StuffWith the ever popular @Astro_Soichi Noguchi leaving Station, we needed someone tweeting in space. Doug agreed. And I’m so glad he did. I’m thoroughly enjoying his point of view and feel he’s “The Right Stuff” for the job of communicating the amazing story of humanity’s journey to space and back.

Doug is a natural. He’s not only sharing pictures with us, but adding quite poignant commentary. We can share his journey together. Here is how it starts…and we’ve only just begun. He’ll be on orbit for the next five+ months.

Pre-flight

@Astro_Wheels Russian Sokol spacesuit. Astro_Wheels Expedition 24 Crewmates@Astro_Wheels posing next to Soyuz Hatch@Astro_Wheels takes Medal of Honor to orbit.@Astro_Wheels showing his Soyuz window seat.Soyuz spacecraft on the launchpadSoyuz spacecraft on the launch pad

On-Orbit

@Astro_Wheels Sunrise@Astro_Wheels Aurora@Astro_Wheels: Cyprus from Space Station@Astro_Wheels: Egypt from Space StationI’m really looking forward to learning more about astronaut Doug Wheelock through his 140 character tweets. I hope you’re following him. If you’re not, you should.

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, federal government, Gov 2.0, leadership, NASA, social media, space