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Mar 28 2011

Front-row seat for the STS-134 Endeavour Launch (aka SQUEEEEE!!!!)

Beautiful Shot of Endeavour's Final Rollout - credit to Discover Magazine's Bad Astronomy Blog

In mid-March, NASA invited Twitter users to apply for the opportunity to attend a “Tweetup” event (where Twitter users meet in person) for the launch of Endeavour for NASA’s STS-134 mission to the International Space Station, currently scheduled for April 19, 2011. I follow a bunch of the NASA accounts (astronauts, mission accounts, etc), so when the Tweetup was announced, even though I figured I didn’t stand a chance, I went ahead and put my name in. I found out this week that I am one of 150 people picked out of over 4100 who applied!

Barring a major change of schedule, the event will begin on April 18 with a day of tours of Kennedy Space Center, including facilities not normally open to the public (I had to apply for clearance for this part). We are tentatively scheduled to view the opening of the rotating gantry that surrounds the shuttle during prep at 11:00 pm that evening. On the 19th, we will spend several hours speaking with astronauts, engineers, and scientists before we head out to the press area (next to the famous countdown clock), which is as close as anyone can get for the launch, scheduled for 7:48 pm. Here is a really great video about the experience posted by one of the STS-132 Atlantis Tweetup attendees; this is what I get to look forward to!

The idea is that the attendees will be using social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc, to broadcast information as widely as possible to their groups of friends and followers. I’ve contacted the director of science curricula at Springfield Public Schools to see about setting up some projects with local science classes (have the students give me questions to take and videotape the answers, then present to the class after the launch, or something along those lines). SPS was on Spring Break this week, so I should hear back soon about getting this off the ground (pun intended). If any other schools or teachers would be interested, please feel free to give them my email address; I really want to explore every opportunity to share this experience.

I plan to take TONS of photos and get some video; I’ll be posting updates, photos, and any videos to a number of places, including:
My Twitter: http://twitter.com/brendajburrell
My Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/brendaburrell
Here on my blog

We have to pay for all expenses, so I am trying to keep my costs down by driving (roughly 19 hours one-way) instead of flying; this means that I can be super flexible if the launch date changes and also that I can offer carpooling to and from events for others staying in the same part of Florida as me. Local hotels are all booked solid so I will be staying about an hour’s drive from KSC; several other attendees have hotels reserved near mine so carpooling will be a breeze.

Needless to say, I am beyond excited! I’ve been a bit of a “space geek” and this is beyond a dream come true. I haven’t been able to talk about much else lately, and I will definitely keep everyone up-to-date!

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3 Responses to “Front-row seat for the STS-134 Endeavour Launch (aka SQUEEEEE!!!!)”

Running Commentary:
  1. Arlo says:

    It’s an awesome experience; have a GREAT time!

  2. Susan says:

    This is so incredibly awesome! I am so happy for you (and jealous, ;-)).