The anticipation for the STS-135 NASA Tweetup had been building since I received my congratulatory email June 10. I had connected with other attendees on Twitter and Facebook, read the resources listed on the wiki, planned the shots I wanted to get and with which camera, sent out a press release and done interviews, arranged travel and begged my dad to let me stay at his house and borrow his Jeep.
On two o’clock Wednesday morning, July 6, I finished packing and had Kirsten drive me to the bus station in Portland where I boarded a bus to Boston. I was too excited to be tired, even though that same excitement had kept me mostly awake for a week. The ride to Boston was an opportunity to work, as the bus was equipped with wifi. I updated the Outside Television homepage and send out a flurry of emails. I also scheduled tweets to be published over the next three days.
In Boston I checked my one bag and breezed through the TSA checkpoint. I watched the sun rise behind the airplanes lined up at the gates as I enjoyed a light breakfast while I waited to board.
Boston to Philly in less than five minutes.
Philly to Orlando in less than five minutes.
After a plane change and brief layover in Philly, I was again on my way toward Florida.
As instructed, I texted my dad as soon as our wheels hit the runway in Orlando. That was his cue to leave the house to come get me. After collecting my bag I didn’t have to wait long for he and my step-mother, Patsy, to show up at the curb outside baggage claim. My dad had perfected this choreographed routine during countless similar trips to retrieve the constant parade of visitors they receive.
We drove to their home in St. Cloud to drop off my bag and grab a bite before heading to the Space Coast. I had been invited, along with the other 149 NASA Tweetup attendees, to visit SpaceX for a special presentation of their company, particularly their Dragon spacecraft, which had successfully orbited Earth in 2010.
After a brief introduction by SpaceX Communications Director Kirstin Grantham, Astronaut Garrett Reisman talked to us about their capsule and plans to launch human and cargo payloads to the ISS and beyond. We weren’t limited to hearing about their capsule, however, as it was conveniently on display in a tent between two of their buildings.
Following the presentation at SpaceX, Dad, Patsy and I went to dinner at some seafood joint in Cocoa. It was delicious. I just wanted morning to come, so I could get on with the tweetup.