Early in October, I learned that my brother Bill @VegasBill on Twitter, was picked from all entries, from all around the world, to be one of the first to officially participate in NASA’s launch of STS-129 Space Shuttle Atlantis Tweetup or by this link http://bit.ly/bIfGDD . A Tweetup is a group of people that use the social networkingsite Twitter to chat about what’s happening. Bill learned of the event via Twitter and decided to take a chance. Space Shuttle Atlantis will be making its way to the International Space Station to deliver needed equipment to finish it, along with a change of staff.
I wasn’t aware that he even entered into the NASA Tweetup invite, until he was chosen, and I’m thankful that he was. Bill was able to go through a lot of the Kennedy Space Center near Orlando, Florida. He spoke with astronauts that had gone into space and with technicians that built rockets.
The second day of the Tweetup brought the actual launch of STS-129, Space Shuttle Atlantis. On the second day, I went with Bill to the media launch watching area, the closest space that civilians could get to Atlantis. We ended up in a WiFi enabled tent at the base of the media area. This was the first ever Tweetup during a launch for NASA and they were nicely prepared for about 100 bloggers and Twitter personalities.
To be at the Kennedy Space Center with 100 other people, just as excited as myself to see an actual launch, was one of those life bucket list events. Getting interviewed by CNN International Backstory and the Miami Sentinel was icing on the cake. I made a lot of friends that day IRL or in real life and we still chat online now and again.
A few hours before blast off, NASA completed several of its preflight checks. They also did a jet flyby with a black helicopter. They then gave us mere mortals, a chance to see soon to be space travelers, one last time before they boarded the shuttle. After the shiny Gulfstream trailer took the astronauts, the Tweetup took position at the count down clock.
The count down went from one minute, to 30 seconds and then held at 10 seconds. After a few final checks, the last 10 seconds counted down and then IT happened. STS-129 Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off right in front of everyone with the power of a controlled nuclear explosion. The light of the shuttle hits you first, and then the booming sound. Shortly after, you see the bright light traveling upwards at 1,700 mph. Everyone around me started cheering and clapping, this happened several times, until the shuttle separated from its booster engines.
To be there at that moment in time, was truly a life-changing event. The pride I felt in how a people and country can come together, in the pursuit of science, learning and moving the entire human race positively forward, was more evident than ever before. After watching Star Trek for many years, this was the closest I may ever come to actually going to space.
Huge props to everyone at NASA, the people who put the event together, the staff, engineers and literal rocket scientists, from around the world who helped to launch STS-129 Space Shuttle Atlantis. Bill and I left Florida with amazing video, a good tan and many new friends, that we can also Tweet with over Twitter.
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