Whew! Busy two weeks.
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.
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.
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!!!
Give 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)?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
- Lucie Delheimer @LucieD_inthesky
- Holly Griffith @absolutspacegrl
- Cindy Mahler @txflygirl
- Sarah Graybeal Ruiz @saroy
- Michael Grabois @mgraobois
- Alicia Llewellyn @adllewellyn
- Leslie Ringo @i_Leslie
- Erge Edgu-Fry @edgufry
- Joel Walker @joelwalker
- James McClellan @jbmccl
- Nicholas Skytland @skytland
- Mana Vautier @spacekiwi
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 Massimino “Behind the Scenes-Space Potty” video for more info. (Yes, I have a pic sitting on the Shuttle potty, but that’s reserved for Facebook!)
Thumbs up to Amiko Kauderer and her team in Houston for putting on a good show!
Crosspost on OpenNASA.