STS-129 NASA Tweetup – What it Meant to Me

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November 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm

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I’m cheating and reposting, in full, my response to ‘s question on Twitter.com:

“was #nasatweetup success, not, somewhere between? What has it done for you & the public? 4 news story.”

I thought I’d share a few things that convey what the STS-129 NASA Tweetup has meant to/for me.

I’m not an Internet marketer, a business development person, an engineer or scientist. I’m just a mom and a (very) part-time web developer and programmer. My daughter turns 3 in mid-March 2010. I hadn’t traveled alone (without co-workers or my spouse) in many years; in fact, the last time I traveled by myself was 1987 when I attended U.S. Space Camp () in Huntsville, Alabama, at the age of ~13 years old. I’m an “uber space geek” in every sense of the word and one of the early members of the Space Tweep Society () founded by Kennedy Space Center (KSC) employee Jen Scheer ().

Attending the STS-129 NASA Tweetup represented a not-insignificant expense to me & my family, since I live in San Antonio, Texas and I intended to remain in Florida until STS-129 launched, whether or not it was during the two days allocated to the STS-129 Tweetup by NASA. If launch had slipped to December, obviously, I’d have had to head home, but otherwise I had done all the research and booked my stay to last the duration of the available launch windows for STS-129 (I booked airfare thru Southwest Airlines () which offers penalty-free flight changes at any time, and I’d prepaid my hotel from November 14th with checkout on November 19th.)

Seeing a Space Shuttle in person, much less a launch, has been a lifelong dream of mine. With the Shuttle program dwindling down, I had long ago assumed this was a dream that would, forever, remain unfulfilled. When I heard about the STS-129 NASA Tweetup I entered, but with *very little* expectation of being selected.

** talk about burying the lede **

WHAT HAS #nasatweetup DONE FOR ME?

I have been inspired, overjoyed, honored & struck numb without words to express my experience at the tweetup. I had never-before attended a tweetup, much less such a high profile one. I have been very active on Twitter, but prior to NASA’s STS-129 NASA Tweetup announcement, my interest & activity on Twitter.com was flagging a bit… it was interesting but wasn’t providing any real value, per se. Now, I feel as though I have at the very least 100 new very close friends and my horizons & excitement for NASA have been broadened even further (something I didn’t anticipate, having been a lifelong space geek.) I learned so many new tidbits from the speakers NASA lined up, which again, as a lifelong space geek I didn’t anticipate. If I was an uber space geek when I picked up my ID badge, I left Florida at the conclusion of my visit an even greater advocate for NASA’s role in space exploration, particularly manned spaceflight.

Attending the STS-129 NASA Tweetup reaped immediate rewards, including folks I’d met helping me (via Twitter) find a licensed Apple repair/reseller near my hotel (versus 121 miles away in Tampa, FL) so I could replace my MacBook Pro’s fraying & about-to-melt power brick. I met so many amazing, intelligent, wonderful people–many of whom I intend to stay in touch with for the long haul. I met so many kindred spirits and I finally got to put faces, names, back-stories and shared experiences with the Twitter handles I’d been chatting back & forth with over the past year or so. I immediately felt like I was among “my people”. This happened before I’d so much as left the conference center on day #1 of the tweetup, and I was drawn not only to my fellow attendees but also the INFECTIOUS ENTHUSIASM of NASA’s own Twitterati, including NASA’s Beth Beck (), Stephanie Schierholz () & John Yembrick (). I could not wipe the grin off my face for the duration of the tweetup, nor truthfully the duration of my stay in Florida. Yes, indeed, I enjoyed the launch and tweetup so much, and was so floored when STS-129 launched without a hitch on her first launch window, that I stayed in Florida thru November 19th as I’d originally booked, meeting up again with my fellow Space Tweeps / tweetup attendees and NASA employees like @flyingjenny. Thanks to them, I even got to watch both of STS-129′s Solid Rocket Boosters being towed from sea back thru Canaveral Lock for refurbishment & reuse (see my YouTube playlist: )

I thought this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I thought I would be fine with this being my FIRST AND LAST Space Shuttle launch. Long before we were through STS-129 NASA Tweetup Day #1 events, I was already plotting how I could find a way (financially) to swing attending another NASA Tweetup (launch or otherwise.)

Related Media:

Attending the STS-129 NASA Tweetup affected me profoundly, as I emotionally express in this 10 minute stream-of-consciousness YouTube video just 24 hours after witnessing the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis: .

And less than 12 hours prior to launch, here I am proving tweeps don’t sleep in a

with Jon Belmont (@jbelmont) of Associated Press Radio News. This was recorded at 5AM on launch day, November 16, 2009.

– Shannon Moore ()

UPDATE: As of 2011, GeekHabitat.com is no longer in active development. I now blog at . See my followup entry, posted December 31, 2010:

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