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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 buzzroom.nasa.gov 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.

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

NASA Tweet-Up: Live Space Link

Today tweeters joined us at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC to chat with Space Station crewmates @astro_Jeff Williams and @astro_Nicole Stott live onorbit. So nice to meet you all!

Former astronaut Tom Jones helped MC the event and answer questions. When the master alarm sounded on Station ending our live interview, Tom stepped in to explain the onorbit process Jeff and Nicole would be following to check out the cause of the alarm. (All is well on Station. Rest assured.)

Our tweeters had great fun with Tom’s name and tweeted names of songs made famous by singer Tom Jones. (I really didn’t get the reference until later. I was busy tweeting on my iPhone. I saw a few strange references flow down the twitterfall screen at the front, but had no idea what they meant. I guess I need a life.)

Adorable astronaut Mike Fincke, veteran of two Station missions, joined us from Houston (via NASA TV feed) to answer questions from tweeters. He absolutely twinkles. Gotta love him. We also heard from NASA Deputy Lori Garver, Space Operations Deputy Lynn Cline, and Space Operations Jacob Keaton. Jacob shared some anecdotes about the node naming contest and our interaction with U2.

Oh, and BTW, we played Star Girl by McFly in space during the downlink. Yay. So excited to engage an enthusiastic new demographic of music fans who may now perk their ears when NASA missions occur. Star Girl and ThankYouNASA both climbed the Twitter Trending chart after the Tweet-Up. Tom Fletcher, mastermind of the #StarGirlinSpace campaign, thanks NASA.

Let’s now talk a bit about the master alarm episode. Quite unsettling. My first thought, how horrific if something were to happen to Station while our Twitter guests sat and watched. My second thought, confirmation, once again, that:

Space is an unforgiving business. What we do is hard.

We make it look easy.

Our astronauts who live and work in space onboard Space Station put their lives on the line EVERY SINGLE DAY. Watching Jeff and Nicole calmly excuse themselves to go check out the source of the alarm, demonstrates our professionalism. Chances were the alarm registered a false reading. Had the reverse occurred, the worst case scenario would send the crew to the Russian Soyuz escape vehicles to abandon ship.

None of this happened. Whew! Our tweeters went home happy. No traumatic scars from that day at NASA Headquarters when “the alarm” sounded. Yay. Hurray. On with the show.

Here are my iPhone pics from the day. Yes, they’re a bit fuzzy. Work with me. (I’ll caption them properly when I’m not sleepy.)

Note: Just so you know, the spacesuit on the stage is “headless” because the helmets are out being refurbished. It’s really not a Halloween statement, as some thought. 😉

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Filed under Earth, federal government, leadership, NASA, social media, space