Monday, August 29, 2011

NASA Juno Tweetup: reflections

Read my previous blog entry in the "NASA Juno Tweetup" series: "Day 2 - KSC Visitor Center, Astronaut Hall of Fame and Endless BBQ"
Jump back to my first blog entry in the series:  "Preview of my report"

Countdown clock at the LC-39 Press Site

Well, this is my last post recapping my time at the NASA Tweetup for the launch of the Juno spacecraft.  It was an amazing experience stuffed into two action packed days.  It's hard to imagine that I almost wasn't able to attend due to some scheduling conflicts.  Luckily, it all worked out and I was able to take part in this once in a lifetime experience.

Hanging out with space shuttle Discovery in the VAB

As I look back, I would have to say that the tour of Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was the highlight of my time there.  The sights we saw will stick with me for many years to come.  Standing next to space shuttle Discovery, looking straight up the middle of the Vehicle Assembly Building, and driving by Launch Complex 5, where the American space program started, were the real highlights for me.

Charles Bolden: shuttle astronaut, NASA Administrator and head honcho

The guest speakers, demos and launch of the Juno spacecraft were a very close second, but the tour was really something special.  The best part about the guest speakers wasn't necessarily the content of their talks, but just experiencing their passion for their work.  These were brilliant scientists, engineers and astronauts taking time out of their busy lives to share their passion with 150 Tweetup nerds in a hot tent.  Pretty inspiring people to be around.

Tweetup participants in the tent

One aspect of the Tweetup I really enjoyed was talking to other participants.  It's great to meet people that share the same interests as you, and love to get in conversations about it.  There were people from all walks of life, with many different specialties, that all shared an interest in space exploration.  The comradery on our tour bus (1A/1B), the people I sat with in the tent, my dinner companions the first night, and the folks I met at the Endless BBQ were all wonderful.  All were great people, and I hope to cultivate relationships with them via Twitter and Facebook, and maybe even see them at future NASA Tweetups.

Vehicle Assembly Building

Even though I'm not one of the "NASA is dead now that the space shuttle program is finished" people, I did take away the feeling that NASA is alive and kicking.  As Charles Bolden said, the unmanned missions are the building blocks to the higher profile manned missions of the future.  In many ways, I think the data compiled by the unmanned missions is much more exciting than the manned missions.  The Juno spacecraft will travel for five years, over 400,000,000 miles from earth, and study a planet that might give us information about how the solar system formed.  That's pretty mind blowing stuff.

It's human nature to explore earth and space.  Unfortunately, society will find money for wars in the middle of a desert on the other side of the globe before they find money for space exploration.  I guess fighting is human nature too.  Many people don't realize that space exploration has had many technological advancements as side effects.  Sure, we can just save all our money, not explore anything, not advance as a society, and die not having learned anything.  I just don't see the point in that.  Some people don't see the big picture, but I'm glad to be one of the voices that shares my enthusiasm about space exploration.

I wasn't around in the 60's, but I read that the Apollo missions unified Americans as much as WWII did.  Luckily, politicians see high profile space missions as a unifying thing, so then they will find money for NASA.  When the time comes to send humans to Mars, I hope it will be like the Apollo program all over again.  Participation by both NASA and private space companies in space exploration seems like a cost effective way to push ahead.

150 NASA Juno Tweetup participants

As you may have gathered from my last ten blog posts about the Juno Tweetup, I had a blast (pun intended).  If you have the chance to participate in a NASA Tweetup, don't pass up the opportunity.  If you don't think a Tweetup for an unmanned mission will be as exciting as one of the past shuttle Tweetups, I think you're wrong.  Heck, the GRAIL Tweetup will have Sally Ride as a guest speaker!

Even though this is my last Juno Tweetup recap post, please stay in touch by following me on Twitter and keep an eye on my blog for updates. Writing these blog posts was very fun, since I got to relive all the highlights of my two days at Kennedy Space Center.  Thanks for checking out my blog, and I hope you enjoyed reading the posts as much as I enjoyed writing them. 

See all my pictures from the NASA Juno Tweetup


  1. Thank you for taking the time to write up these posts. I most definitely enjoyed reading them.

    Sally Ride?! Wow!! Have you heard anything else about the Grail Tweetup agenda?

  2. Hi Melissa. Thanks for the nice comment. I really enjoyed writing all the Juno blog posts, so I'm glad you enjoyed reading them. Other than Sally Ride, I haven't heard anything else about the GRAIL Tweetup itinerary.

  3. Thanks, Mike, for the great blog entries about the tweetup. You’ve helped me relive the fun memories of that event, making it easier to cope with not being there for #GRAIL. :-) I hope there will be a tweetup for MSL in November, and perhaps we’ll both be invited to attend.

  4. Hi Mike...Sorry about that "Anonymous" post. I'm Jay Holt in Orlando...@OneJayAtATime.

  5. Hi Jay. Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed my Juno Tweetup series. I know what you mean about not being able to attend the GRAIL Tweetup. Hopefully there are more NASA Tweetups in our future.