As of yesterday, I posted my last set of pictures from the Houston tweetup and announced the latest tweetup registration. Since this blog was originally only meant to document my trip to the final launch, and has now lasted past the landing and a little beyond, it has pretty much run its course.
There are 108 posts that each document a bit of NASA history, space shuttle history, Atlantis history, mission STS-135 facts, or just the tweetup experience itself.
Hopefully, these will be a useful source of information to someone.
Until I win another spot at a NASA Tweetup (which I suspect is VERY likely, as not many people register), posting here will now be light.
Thank you for reading any of it.
I’ve always liked space, but my life kinda changed on June 10th when I got the notice I’d won the STS-135 Tweetup, only to be followed by winning a spot on the STS-135 Mission Tweetup. If you have been the least bit jealous or thought me lucky, you can do the same thing. There are still NASA Tweetups to attend.
NASA will host a two-day launch Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on Sept. 7-8 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the twin lunar-bound GRAIL spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Signup will open for the GRAIL NASATweetup.
Tweetup registration opens at 9 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 26, and closes at noon EDT on Thursday, July 28. NASA will accommodate 150 participants randomly selected from those who sign up. Additional registrants will be placed on a waiting list.
Registration is for one person only (you) and is non-transferable.
Our final stop on the most amazing tour was the building housing most of the to-scale mockups for training on the ISS, shuttle, soyuz, Orion, and any number of other craft. The room was like the convention floor of a civic center or large basketball arena. A glass catwalk around the top allowed viewing by the regular tour, but as typical, we were right down in the middle of it all. Heck, our tour guide was an astronaut. (Nothing halfway for NASA tweetups.)
We called it a day and could have headed home if we wished, but there was an ‘after party’ at Chelsea’s Wine Bar. That and Boondoggle’s next door seem to be local NASA hangouts, as I was told there was a table of astronauts and mission control personnel at Boondoggle’s. So, if you’re vacationing in the area and want to increase your chances of meeting the famous, now you know where to eat. I heard Frenchie’s is also a hangout.
But we had our own astronaut, mission controller, and a facilities manager at our dinner, so I wasn’t jealous.
The Neutral Buoyancy Lab was our next stop. The huge pool is 40 feet deep and 200 feet long, with 6.2 million gallons of water. In the pool are mockups of the ISS and the shuttle payload bay. I presume they’ll be taking out the shuttle bay.
There was a training exercise going on while we were there. Two of the people who normally train the astronauts were in the suits. So it was a ‘training the trainers’ day. Along with the people in spacesuits, there were several divers around them.
After the simulators, we broke for lunch at Building 3, the JSC cafeteria. By then, all 30 of the tweeters were power hungry, meaning we all needed to recharge our phones. The rest of the day, any time we paused in a tour, people were looking for plugs and trying to power up. Many ran out of power before the end of the day. There was also a small gift shop, but as soon as I walked in, they announced it was time to go.
On the public tour, they advertise eating at this employee cafeteria as the place astronauts eat. Sure enough, Mike Massimino walked by our table.
Non-profit museums, colleges, and schools can request space shuttle tiles and other excess property from the NASA program at this website: GSAXcess.
There is a multi-stepped process and frankly, I’m not sure exactly how to do it. But clearly you start by registering at the site; something I can’t do because I’m not affliated with a school or museum. One side says the deadline for “pre-screening” is July 27th, while the middle column says the shuttle tile requests are closed until September because of summer break.
Prescreening Period 7: Start Date – 06/15/2011; Internal prescreening ends – 07/06/2011; External prescreening ends – 07/27/2011 (Includes Shuttle, Hubble, Apollo, and International Space Station artifacts) New!
Either way, you can ask for anything on their list (apparently you go through a list and put things in a shopping cart like many online sites) and you pay only SHIPPING.
For example, shuttle tiles, probably the most obvious item in my opinion, will show a cost of $1000, but that is their book value of it. Any school requesting one would pay only around $24 for shipping.
The right hand side of the above linked website shows two ways to request an artifact. If you are requesting through the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program, you don’t enter your NCES number but follow one procedure, and if you’re requesting directly from NASA you use another procedure. Perhaps the first one puts the shipping costs on the taxpayer dime so there are more hoops to jump through.
Shuttle tiles aren’t the only objects. A quick slideshow shows a spacesuit glove, a laptop without a harddrive, all the way up to an orbiter payload bay mockup. Can’t imagine the shipping on THAT one.