Tag Archives: expedition 27

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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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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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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