At the NASA Tweetup, we had several speakers. I tried to tweet highlights of what they were saying at @RennaW on twitter, but they were going so fast.
First you have to know that Elmo from Sesame Street was there. He answered some questions. His favorite food is wasabi food, but it burns and that’s why he doesn’t have eyebrows. Elmo was talking with two astronauts, Col. Doug Wheelock and Mike Massimino. Elmo asked them good questions and they answered as if talking to a 3-yr-old. They go into space and are far from home, but they’re with friends so it’s not so scary.
Wheelock commented on the difference between the shuttle and the Russian Soyuz. He said the Soyuz was a tamer launch, but that landing was going over like Niagara falls in a barrel, that someone had set on fire.
Mike Massimiro may or may not have sent the first tweet from space. He tweeted whenever he had something to say, but it went to an email that was downloaded every few hours and someone else put it on Twitter. Some purists say that it doesn’t count. Mike says he was first, but he emailed the tweets and someone else post them on tweet. So is that “sending the first tweet from space” Since then, TJ Kramer sent a tweet actually from space. Yes, Wheelock said, he dreams about space and has a floating feeling for ages. Which is why they’re not allowed to drive for a month after they get back.
He talked about how beautiful the sunsets and sunrises were, and that no picture came even close. Once the ISS was engulfed in an aurora, glowing green.
The people you hear over the loud speakers all day of a launch are the NASA Test Director (NTD) and the Orbiter Test Conductor (OTC). One is in charge of all aspects of the launch (press, visitors, everything), the other in charge of launching the shuttle itself.
He also explained why the shuttle rolls over after liftoff, something I’ve always wondered. First, it is because the antenna are on top, but mainly, because although the shuttle isn’t terribly aerodynamic, a cinderblock with stubby wings, it still wants to fly. At launch, they want the SRB and external tank to move it forward, but at that speed, lift would act on the wings and the shuttle would want to go up. But if it rolls over, it takes out the lift factor.
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations, spoke next. He said they were probably more than likely go ahead and tank the vehicle. “All we need is no rain within 20 miles.” I had previously been certain we weren’t launching on Friday, but he makes me optimistic.
I got to ask him the first question, so I was live on NASA TV, which my family didn’t see because they turned it off b/c it was “too jumpy.” I asked what they did or took off a shuttle before it went to a museum. Museums want the Shuttle’s in flying condition. @NASA does it’s best to give them a safe, flyable shuttle to inspire future generations. They take out the fuel and clean off any toxic chemicals.
Angie Brewer spoke next. She is the flow director for Atlantis, oversees the processing of Atlantis from when she lands until she goes up again.