Tag Archives: fragile oasis

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

@Astro_Ron Blasts Off @FragileOasis

Ron Garan is an incredible visionary. Not only is he an astronaut, he’s the force behind Manna Energy (one of our LAUNCH:Water innovations), and now his latest brainchild FragileOasis.org is nearly ready for its long-anticipated debut with new community interactive elements.

Ron, well known as @Astro_Ron to the tweetisphere, left planet Earth on top of a Soyuz TMA-21 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday, April 5, 2011 (Kazakh time, April 4th US time). He launched just one week shy of the 50th anniversary of the first human to leave this planet, Yuri Gagarin, who launched from the same launch pad April 12, 1961.

Ron Garan's Soyuz launch

Ron Garan's Soyuz launch. Credit: NASA/Carla Cioff

Ron is traveling to space for his first time on a Russian rocket, though he’s a space veteran with a previous Shuttle flight  and space walks under his belt during STS-124. His crewmates on this mission, Russian Cosmosnauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrey Borisenko are traveling in space for their maiden voyage.

Space Travelers leaving Earth

Space Travelers leaving Earth. Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

Their Soyuz was decorated to commemorate the 5oth milestone, and carries Yuri’s likeness. Here is a twitpic from @Astro_Nicole Stott, who attended the launch.

@Astro_Nicole's twitpic of Soyuz

@Astro_Nicole's twitpic of Soyuz

Ron and his crewmates dock with Space Station on Wednesday, April 6th at 7:18 p.m. EDT. They will join NASA’s @Astro_Cady Coleman, ESA’s @Astro_Paolo Nespoli, and Cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev already on orbit since December 2010.

Astro_Paolo's tweet

The hatch opening and welcome ceremony will start around 8:45 pm. You can watch all this live on NASA TV. Personally, I prefer the new HDtv Ustream version. Great images!

While Ron’s in space, you’ll hear more about Fragile Oasis. We created the Fragile Oasis website http://www.fragileoasis.org to share stories of life on and off planet Earth through the eyes of NASA astronauts. Our next phase of the website design adds community engagement which makes use of the latest social media tools to engage users in conversations about space, while inspiring them to take action toward making our home planet a better place – one project at a time. Our goal is to provide a vehicle for all organizations committed to improving life for the inhabitants of planet Earth to connect, collaborate and inspire each other in their common goals.

New Fragile Oasis site

New Fragile Oasis site. Stay tuned...

We’ve been scrambling for months to get the new community portion of the site ready for debut. We’re still working out the bugs, but we think you’ll LOVE it!

Preview of Fragile Oasis Bloggernaut page

Preview of Fragile Oasis Bloggernaut page

We have celebrity guest bloggers lined up and exciting partnerships with some amazing Earth-based organizations who share Ron’s vision of making this Fragile Oasis a better place for those of us who will never have the chance to leave Earth’s gravity.

NASA supports Fragile Oasis as an investment in tomorrow. We want space to inspire you to make a positive impact here on Earth. Let’s see what you can do!

Thanks Ron for letting us help make your vision a reality.

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, environment, humanitarian aid, innovation, LAUNCH, NASA, social media, space

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