Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Experience at the #SCTweetup at the US Space and Rocket Center

I was 15 when Space Camp, the movie aired. I wasn’t the least bit interested in math or science and my knowledge of all things ‘space’ was minimal, yet there was something so appealing about that movie that afterwards, I dreamed of going to Space Camp for months.  I’m sure that didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I thought Tate Donovan was hot, right?

Last Thursday and Friday, part of my dream came true when I had the unbelievable opportunity to attend the very first tweet-up sponsored by the US Space and Rocket Center, in Huntsville,  home of none other than the official Space Camp with 13 other participants!

SCTweetup Test Stand group photo Group Photo at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in front of a Test Stand

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous. After all, I’m still not the most ‘space minded’ individual. My kids even reminded me on the way out the door that Pluto is no longer a planet. Yep. They had confidence in me. 

No worries, I wasn’t quizzed on the names or order of the planets. Nor was I asked to recall the past 134 Space Shuttle missions. My job was simply to experience all that the US Space and Rocket Center have to offer and tweet about it with the other participants. I think we covered that.

Aren’t you just a bit curious about my experience? 

I have to tell you that I really enjoyed every minute! Some I enjoyed more than others. For instance, take a look at the MAT or multi axis simulator. It spins you up, down and all around basically giving you a sense of disorientation.  

 MAT simulator at Space Camp   In the MAT

If I’m honest, I’ll say that I didn’t necessarily LOVE it, but I was glad that I gave it a try.  If I’d found myself strapped in this seat 25 years ago, I probably would have loved it and you wouldn’t have been able to get me out of it. 

We also had the opportunity to “walk on the moon” in the 1/6 chair. I opted out of that one but other tweeters really enjoyed it and even thought it was fun.

1/6 chair simulator at Space Camp                                                      @buellesbach in the 1/6 Chair

We got a brief behind the scenes look at the Space Camp simulators on our way to eat dinner with former astronaut Richard “Hoot” Gibson, one of the highlights of the #SCTweetup. 

 "Hoot" Gibson and I at #SCTweetup

After dinner with Richard “Hoot” Gibson

After dinner we practiced our space mission. I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about this endeavor. Though the names of our position were on the back of our ID badges, I had no idea what my position meant, I knew that I’d requested something behind the scenes. Maybe it would have helped if I’d re-watched Space Camp before the big tweet-up arrived.

Turns out I was CAPCOM. As part of Mission Control, it was my job to communicate with the Space Shuttle and relay information back to my teammates. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Well, let me tell you that I learned something during the practice run. I am a bit of a perfectionist and maybe just the tiniest bit of a control freak. I like to know what I’m doing and I like to be able to do my job well. I don’t like surprises. I also don’t like feeling unprepared.  Probably not the best character traits to have for the job.

      My station during our Space Mission

I left feeling totally unprepared for our mission the following day and little did  I know, I would not sleep much that night.

The following morning we met for a tour of Marshall Space Flight Center. I learned so much about our local history as well as NASA’s. I really could have spent all day there just soaking everything up. I’ll share more about this aspect of the tweet-up in another post but in the meantime, you may enjoy reading what Marshall actually had to say about the “Twitters” as they printed on our name badges.

NASA insignia Inside the ISS Payloads Operation Center

After our tour we rushed back to the US Space and Rocket Center to have lunch with Tim Pickens, part inventor and part scientist with a passion for rockets. He is currently working on the official team, Rocket City Pioneers, to win the Google Lunar X Prize.  I think we’ll really see some exciting developments come out of this contest, so be sure to tune in from time to time to see what’s going on.

After our lunch it was time for the moment I was dreading, our space mission. I have to tell you that our mission did have a few glitches, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever participated in. When it was over I really did feel as though I were a part of something. I can certainly see why the missions are so beneficial to team building during Space Camp.

SCTweetUp 152 The space shuttle simulators at Space Camp

After our mission it was time to head over to Aviation Challenge.

Aviation Challenge On the grounds of Aviation Challenge

I enjoyed the outdoor exhibits, or aircraft, while many of my fellow tweeters enjoyed trying the simulators indoors.

Finally, I wrapped up the day by visiting A T.Rex Named Sue, the current traveling exhibit at the US Space and Rocket Center

 A peek at A T.Rex Named Sue

I returned home exhausted, and grateful to have had such an incredible experience with such a wonderful group of people. Thank you US Space and Rocket Center! You may enjoy reading our  Twitter stream  as well as this post from the Sprocketeers, #SCTweetup an #EPICSUCCESS.   

You may be interested in following:

@SpaceCampUSA, @Check_Six (Aviation Challenge), @NASA_Marshall, @RocketCitySpacePioneers

Have you ever wanted to be part of a Tweet-up? What are you waiting for?


  1. Hmmm... I think I'm still in the dark ages - one of these days I'll join the 21st century and try Twitter ;)
    I never heard of the movie, but your adventure sounds fun!

  2. Oh Lorus, Twitter is so much fun! I can skim through the tweets and learn
    all kinds of stuff! I'll be sharing a post on how to get started with
    Twitter next week- you may find it helpful. :)


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