This is a recap of NASAtweetup day 1, written the next day because my mind was so blown yesterday that I hadn’t processed everything before my head hit the pillow.
In many ways, the tweetup reminds me of working a trade show. The day started early – in the car by 7am, drive around a town that I don’t know that well, make a few u-turns, and screech in at the last minute. And it’s was a typical hot, steamy Florida day complete with a huge thunderstorm in the late afternoon.
We started the day with a “meet the tweeps” intro session where everyone had a chance to stand up, say hello, and share a fun fact. The people at the NASAtweetup are amazing. There are 43 states and 6 countries represented and, although not everyone here are long-time space nerds, are all tech-savvy, interesting people.
Then we were treated to presentations from other NASA folks. My favorite fact was from Dana Hutcherson, Endeavour’s flow director. She told us that all three of NASA’s shuttle flow directors are women, and that the shuttle operations teams are about 50/50 men/women. NASA is a really woman-friendly place to work, which really surprised me. (You can see the full day’s agenda here, including the names of the other presenters.)
We were also treated to a bus tour of the Kennedy Space Center complex, including places where most tourists can’t roam. My favorite was NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (or VAB for the acronym lovers) but not for the reasons that most people think.
Yes, it’s a huge building – 550 feet tall and so large that you could put Yankee Stadium on top of it – but it also holds the 84,000 remaining pieces of Columbia are in permanent storage in NASA’s VAB. Behind the mission patch on the wall is where the pieces are kept; only academics and researchers have access to this secure room. So even today, the astronauts who lost their lives are still helping the science community understand how to make flight safer.
Other highlights of the day:
- @Astro_Clay is a super funny, big bravado presenter. He told some funny stories and really made space flight seem so fun (and funny.) — Photo
- I met Levar Burton. Yes, that Levar Burton.
- We spent some quality time in NASA’s press auditorium thanks to a nasty thunderstorm.
There are many more NASAtweetup photos in this gallery, which chronicles my trip.