Monthly Archives: May 2010

Astronauts-R-Us Tweetup

STS-132: Social media history for NASA. Two tweetups in one mission — one at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of Atlantis, the other in at the Johnson Space Center for live mission coverage.

Whew! Busy two weeks.

Cartoon by NASA's Jim Hull
Cartoon by NASA’s @JimEHull.

I haven’t been back to JSC since the STS-114 Return-to-Flight mission. I started my NASA career at JSC, so this trip was a home coming, of sorts. I was surprised to see all the construction and building refurb going on. Workers everywhere. Not that much has changed really:

Humidity. Texas twang. Astronauts. Oh, and Longhorns.

Texas Longhorns keep the JSC grass short
Texas Longhorns keep the JSC grass short. Hook ‘Em!

Tweetup Lineup for Wednesday, May 19

This was my first “mission tweetup” at JSC. (I was in Italy during the first one.) Wonderful group of 91 space tweeps, with eight foreign nationals representing five countries: UK, Hong Kong, Australia, India, and Sweden. We started out at Space Center Houston @SpaceCenterHou first thing in the morning. We featured NASA’s very cool Buzzroom on one of the three huge screens! You can see it on the left screen in the pic below.

Getting started at JSC STS-132 Tweetup
Getting started at JSC STS-132 Tweetup

Buzzroom visually aggregates the social media conversation (tweets, links, images, and videos) so that anyone can go to to take part in the space buzz — even without a Twitter account. Very slick! We’re still working out some of the sync kinks, but hey, we’ve only been live for a week now. Thank you Jesse Thomas and team for building it for us!!!

Tweet about BuzzroomGive Buzzroom a try. You’ll luv, luv, LUV it!

We started the morning with introductions by NASA’s John Yembrick who likened each tweetup slot to Willie Wonka’s Golden Ticket. And so it is for the lucky 91 space tweeps who sat eagerly in their seats, waiting for the magic to happen. They didn’t wait long. Q & A with astronaut Ron Garan @Astro_Ron who tweeted answers live — but remotely using his iPhone in the passenger seat of traveling vehicle. Don’t you love the freedom technology gives us to stay connected from anywhere (with a cell tower)?

Astronaut Ron Garan
Astronaut Ron Garan @Astro_Ron

#askAstro Ron tweet

#askAstro Ron Garan tweet

Note: You may remember me writing about Ron in March, when he represented MannaEnergy as one of the ten featured innovators in NASA’s sustainability event, LAUNCH:Water! He’s doing amazing things on and off the planet to make the world a better place.

Johnson Space Center Deputy Director and astronaut Ellen Ochoa welcomed space tweeps to the Center.

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa welcomes space tweeps
Astronaut Ellen Ochoa welcomes space tweeps.

Our next speaker shared powerpoint charts about how NASA made it possible for astronauts to tweet directly from space. At this point, however, I glazed over. Powerpoint does that to me. But I must say, our space tweeps geeked out. While they were absorbing his charts, here’s what I saw:

Fail Whale

Oh no! Fail Whale!!

Astronaut @Astro_Jeff Williams spoke about his time as Space Station Commander and narrated a video with mission clips. Hint: Don’t accept if Jeff offers to give you a haircut. He graciously stayed behind to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Nice guy.

Astronaut Jeff Williams tells space stories.
Astronaut Jeff Williams @Astro_Jeff.

@astro_Jeff Tweet@Astro_Jeff tweet@Astro_Jeff tweet

We broke for lunch, then loaded onto busses and trams for a tour of Mission Control to hear from Space Station Flight Director Ed Van Cise @Carbon_Flight. Look! Tweeps are waving at you from Mission Control in pic below. Don’t they look happy? Below that is a pic of Ed sharing stories about how we do business…and how he came to NASA. Behind Ed on the large screens: live views of an STS-132 spacewalk.

Space tweeps watching spacewalk from Mission Control.
Space tweeps watching spacewalk from Mission Control.

Flight Director Ed Van Cise  @Carbon_Flight
Flight Director Ed Van Cise @Carbon_Flight

Astronauts @Astro_Clay Anderson and Steve Robinson tag-teamed small groups of tweeps during our tour of the Shuttle/Station mockup facility, where the astronauts train for space duty. By chance, I got to watch STS-134 Greg Chamitoff and Drew Feustel in the middle of a training simulation. Their flight moved from July to November, at the earliest, due to a payload issue with Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).

Here we are mugging for the camera(s)…again!

Tweeps with Astronaut Steve Robinson in front of Shuttle mockup.
Tweeps with Astronaut Steve Robinson in front of Shuttle mockup.

Next up: Sonny Carter Training facility, or Neutral Bouyancy Lab, where astronauts train underwater — the closest we can get simulating the zero-g environment in space for training with large equipment. Life-sized mockups of space hardware live inside the tank, just waiting for humans to come play. We just missed a training run with Astronaut Kevin Ford, Danny Olivas, Canadian Jeremy Hansen, and Jack Fischer.

Photo of a photo of dive training.
Photo of a photo of dive training at the NBL.

NASA tweetups are all about sharing inside scoop, granting behind-closed-doors access. We let you be part of our space family. And how cool is that?

The JSC tweetup gave tweeps extraordinary access to our astronaut corps, who graciously volunteered to spend time on and off duty. In addition to our speakers during the day, astronauts Steve Robinson, Dan Burbank, Greg “Ray J” Johnson, and the Kelly boys, Mark @ShuttleCDRKelly and Scott @StationCDRKelly, all dropped by to hang with the tweeps — who were THRILLED beyond measure. And to top off a very successful day, we witnessed a flyover of Atlantis docked with Space Station. My first time to see it. EVER!

Can you see it? Station and Atlantis onorbit!
Can you see it? Station and Atlantis on orbit!

In addition to meeting all my new space tweep buds, I also got to spend time with NASA tweeps I’ve met in the Twittersphere. Gotta’ love this brave new social space frontier. I didn’t meet everyone on the list below, but I WILL! Just give me time. (I finally met Holly Griffith, one of my first NASA space tweeps!) You can follow the JSC Ambassadors on Twitter.

Special thanks to Michael Grabois @mgrabois for meeting me early the following morning for a tour of the Shuttle Motion Base Trainer, Aft Deck trainer, and the famous space potty. I even tried the “positional training.” Watch the Mike MassiminoBehind the Scenes-Space Potty” video for more info. (Yes, I have a pic sitting on the Shuttle potty, but that’s reserved for Facebook!)

michael grabois @mgrabois
JSC Ambassador Michael Grabois @mgrabois.

Thumbs up to Amiko Kauderer and her team in Houston for putting on a good show!

Crosspost on OpenNASA.


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

I Met Beth Moore!

Coming back yesterday from the STs-132 mission tweetup hosted by the Johnson Space Center, I met Beth Moore at the airport.

Beth Moore. Credit: Living Proof Ministries

Beth Moore. Credit: Living Proof Ministries

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, let me just tell you she’s an inspiration to women of faith around the world with her books and Biblical studies. My daughters, sister and Mother have all read, taken, and shared Beth Moore studies through the years. In fact, when I was in Zambia visiting my missionary aunt Melody, we watched a Beth Moore series video with the other missionary ladies serving in country. “Breaking Free” was my first Beth Moore experience. My daughter shared “Praying God’s Word” with me when I was going through a tough time. I bought the book to share with my friends. I have a library full of Beth Moore books and devotionals.

No, Beth Moore's hair doesn't look like this!

No, Beth Moore's hair doesn't look like this!

Back to my story: I noticed a petite woman on the escalator in front of me wearing a cute outfit and Texas hair. Those of you from Texas know what I’m talking about. Texas hair is perfectly coiffed. Virginia hair is pony-tailed or clipped. (I moved from Texas hair to Virginia hair long ago. I’ve worked in DC for 20 years now.)

I followed this cutely-dressed woman into the airport tram. As the doors opened, I saw her face for the first time. She looked so familiar. Then it hit me, she looked just like Beth Moore — who I’ve only ever seen in video and on book bios. As we left the tram I asked her if anyone ever told her she looked like Beth Moore. She responded with a laugh, “Oh, I get that all the time.” I laughed and told her I wasn’t surprised because she looked just like her. As I started to walk away, she added,

“….It’s because I am Beth Moore.”

Wow! We chatted as we headed down the escalator and to our respective gates. I told her how my daughter Steph and I visited the JAM facilities in South Africa because of her!

Last Christmas, I attended a Christmas tea at the Willard hosted by a colleague’s church. At the tea, Candice Pretorius, daughter-in-law of JAM founder Peter Pretorius, showed a video with a clip by Beth Moore talking about JAM‘s amazing work feeding poor children in Africa. I talked with Candice about Steph wanting to serve orphans in South Africa and that we were planning a trip to survey potential organizations. Candice connected us with Joy Nell at JAM Headquarters in Johannesburg to learn more about what JAM does.

As it turned out, JAM really doesn’t need counselors at this time. They focus on feeding the most at risk children. And what a great job they do! See earlier blogposts of our time in Africa.

JAM Headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa

JAM Headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa

Steph, BTW, just graduated in May with her Masters in Community Counseling, with a specialty in play therapy. I shared with Beth Moore that she accepted a one-year (or more) position with Bethany House in Johannesburg, South Africa to work with victim empowerment program to counsel kids with untreated trauma. She leaves in July.  Here’s the cool part about meeting Beth Moore: she told me several times how thankful she was that my daughter was going to serve in South Africa.

She told me to tell Steph how proud she was of her.

Bethany House

Bethany House

Just let me tell you, those few words of encouragement on a chance meeting in the IAH airport (though I don’t believe in chance) made all the difference to my daughter Steph. She’s facing some life-altering experiences — both thrilling and unsettling. She’s uprooting to a different continent, leaving friends and family, and starting over with children who desperately need help. She’s following God’s call for her life, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Beth Moore’s heartfelt words of thanks gave Steph a boost when she needs it most.

Thank you Beth Moore for all you do! So cool to meet you!!


Filed under Africa, space, tweet-up, writers

STS-132 Launch Tweetup: It’s a Wrap!

What a thrilling experience to witness a Space Shuttle launch. Even better to share it with 150 space tweeps from across the U.S and overseas. We just wrapped our STS-132 launch tweetup at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday. Many are still in Florida or in the process of traveling back home.

STS-132 Launch from Press Site. Credit: NASA

STS-132 Launch from Press Site. Credit: NASA

So hard to leave newfound space buds to come back home. And, who has time to process all the pics and videos when we’re all still tweeting about the experience?

I finally finished downloading all my iPhone pics last night after flying home yesterday afternoon. Mine are no match for the amazing pics I’ve seen from space tweets with high quality lens cameras. I quit taking my camera once I got the iPhone. I can at least capture memories with a device that fits in my pocket.

So what IS a tweetup? What’s the point?

Atlantis framing my tweetup badge

Atlantis + my tweetup badge.

Two-part answer: For some, a tweetup is simply a time and place for digital colleagues to meet in flesh and blood. For NASA, a tweetup is an opportunity for us to grant space tweeps inside access to our aMAZing space people and projects.

You might consider it a Pay-It-Forward for tomorrow’s space endeavors.

We brought in a number of speakers to share insight into, expertise about, and EMOTIONS around the job we do at NASA. (Most notable for me: Chris Meinert, the last guy to shut the hatch on STS-132 crew. He choked up sharing thoughts about the STS-107 Columbia crew. Overwhelming moment for all of us in the tent.)

NASA's Chief Technology Officer, Bobby Braun

NASA's Chief Technology Officer, Bobby Braun

Speakers for L-1:

  • Bobby Braun, NASA Chief Technologist
  • Astronaut Janice Voss
  • Jon Cowart @Rocky_Sci, NASA engineer
  • Stephanie Stilson, Space Shuttle Orbiter Processing Director
  • Ron Woods, NASA spacesuit designer

We toured the facilities at the Kennedy Space Center, capping L-1 with a trip to the Launch Pad for the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) rollback. What a thrill for all of us!

STS-132 Launch Tweetup. Credit: Paul Alers

STS-132 Space Tweeps in front of Atlantis L-1. Credit: NASA's Paul Alers

Launch day (or L-O) began with a group pic in front of the Countdown Clock. A number of tweeps missed the pic. Traffic is a bear on launch day. I made it just in time. Here’s another Where’s Waldo pic.

STS-132 Space Tweeps with Countdown Clock

STS-132 Space Tweeps pose with Countdown Clock. Credit: NASA's Paul Alers.

Speakers for L-0

  • Lori Garver @Lori_Garver, NASA Deputy
  • Patrick Barrett, Weather Officer
  • Chris Meinert, STS-132 Closeout crew
  • Madi Sengupta @msengupta, Johnson Space Center Space Station Robotics instructor
  • …and Bobby Braun came back for round 2 questions. Yay!
NASA Deputy Lori Garver

NASA Deputy Lori Garver

We also debuted a cool new social media aggregation tool called NASA Buzzroom. You can be part of the space conversation whether or not you have a Twitter account. OR, you can sign in through Twitter to keep the discussion going. Try it. See what you think.

Space Tweep Society Mascot inspecting Buzzroom

Space Tweep Society Mascot inspecting new NASA Buzzroom

So, SO many tweeps asked how they could EVER repay NASA for the privilege of coming to the Tweetup.

For me, the answer is simple.

  • Keep the buzz going.
  • Share this amazing thing called space with all your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, school kids, elders and people you meet on the street.
  • Tell everyone who will listen about the stories you heard, what you saw, and how you felt during your visit to space wonderland, the Kennedy Space Center.
  • Blog, tweet, facebook, youTube, twitpic, flickr your hearts out. (Yes, I use these brand names as verbs now….)
  • Come back for MORE space events as we evolve the social media space community.

How cool is the space biz, after all? Not geeky cool. Just plain cool!

I mean, look at what we do for a living. We break the bonds of gravity each time we lift off Earth. We’re learning to live and work in peace with multiple cultures and languages onboard the International Space Station 24/7 as it orbits the Earth at 17,500 mph every 90 minutes.

We solve problems AGAINST ALL ODDS!

Here’s one example of the payback NASA receives for hosting tweetups: space art by John @Apollo1 in New Jersey, who attended the STS-129 tweetup in November. This is WHY we host tweetups! Check it out!

Tweet by @Apollo1 ShuttleFlower dedicated to STS-132 crewIs hosting a Tweetup worth the effort? ABsoLUTEly!!!!

Here’s my little iPhone photo gallery from the tweetup. For those of you who attended, I had a great time meeting you (if we hadn’t already met)!!! You’re amazing! Thanks SO MUCH for caring enough to spend your own money to travel to Florida to spend two days with us. Godspeed as you journey home!


Filed under astronaut, leadership, NASA, OpenNASA, social media, space, tweet-up

Warning: I Tweet Alot!

During Space Shuttle missions or special events, I tweet alot.  I admit it. It’s true. Folks tease me about filling their pages with space tweets. I love sharing photos and inside scoop. Isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s just so much fun, I can’t stop myself.

I’ve said it before, I’m TWaddicted.

We have two tweetups in two weeks during the upcoming STS-132 mission. We’re hosting space tweeps down at the Kennedy Space Center for a tweetup at the press site on Thursday and Friday. Hopefully Space Shuttle Atlantis will lift off at 2:20 p.m. Friday as scheduled for picture-perfect end to the tweetup. So far, we have a 70% chance of good weather.

If you’re in the Kennedy Space Center area on Friday, please huff ‘n puff the clouds away!

STS-132 Mission Poster

STS-132 Mission Poster

The following week, we have a Johnson Space Center mission tweetup on Wednesday, May 19. This will be my first Houston tweetup. I was in Italy during the STS-130 tweetup. I saw enthusiastic tweets from those who attended, so I’m looking forward to this one.

Sadly, none of the STS-132 flyboys signed on to tweet about the mission. Each astronaut is given the choice:

To Tweet or Not to Tweet. That is the question…

STS-132 astronauts

STS-132 astronauts

They all declined the offer. (Can you imagine passing up the opportunity to tweet? Heresy, I say!)

Consolation: we still have Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi tweeting away from Space Station. He’ll tweet about the launch and docking and mission highlights. He posts the most amazing pics, like this one of “Planet Bahamas.”

Planet Bahamas by @Astro_Soichi

Great scoop for you! We have a new feature to offer this mission : BuzzRoom, a social media aggregator page to collect all the tweets, flickr images, video and more for the tweetups. I’ll post the link once it’s live. SOOO excited. Jess3 built it for us. Folks can be part of the tweetup conversation directly from the BuzzRoom webpage. You’re going to LOVE it!

So, for those of you following me on Twitter, brace yourselves.

So much to tweet. So little time.

ST-132 tweetSTS-132 tweetSTS-132 tweetsTS-132 tweet

BTW: Thanks to Brazil’s Manoel Balem for inspiring this post. He sent me this DM (direct message) after I uploaded a dozen or so STS-132 crew photos on Twitpic:

STS-132 twitter message

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