December 19, 2014

Rise of Independence at Space Center Houston

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft NASA905 & Shuttle Independence

This article was written for, and is reprinted here with permission. With a little help, a space shuttle took to the skies briefly on August 14 in Houston, Texas. Space Shuttle Independence was hoisted by the smallest of Mammoet Holding’s cranes, a 440 ton behemoth stabilized by 980,000 pounds of counterweights (more than the International Space Station would weigh on Earth). As hundreds of onlookers watched, the 171,860 pound (86 ton) replica orbiter gently rose off its … [Read more...]

NASATweetup – Paying it Forward

Father and Son: STS-1 (1981) and STS-135 (2011)

Over the course of NASA's 30-year Space Shuttle program, many millions of people from around the world witnessed a Shuttle launch live in Florida. Families and friends camped in public parks, people flocked to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and Astronaut Hall of Fame, tourists joined established tours to the NASA Causeway, and native Floridians simply stepped outside or took their boats/other watercraft out on launch day. People even managed to view Shuttle launches from Florida's … [Read more...]

Resources for NASA Launch Tweetups

Members of the media and STS-132 Tweetup participants gather near the countdown clock to watch space shuttle Atlantis lift off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station at 2:20 p.m. EDT on May 14.

A fresh group of 150 NASA Tweetup participants is about to descend on the Space Coast for the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour on the STS-134 mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour is set to launch April 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT. With just two Space Shuttle flights remaining, including STS-134, it is more important than ever that space advocates and NASA Tweetup participants share their unique experiences with the world. To help newly-minted NASA Tweetup participants, as well … [Read more...]

Challenger Disaster

Challenger disaster, January 1986 magazine full-page spread

I wrote the following essay in March 1993, as a writing exercise for my freshman English class in college. I share it not because it's well-written, but because it accurately expresses my personal experiences on January 28, 1986--the day we lost the Space Shuttle Challenger and her crew (STS-51L). That evening, President Ronald Reagan canceled his State of the Union Address and instead addressed the nation on the Challenger disaster. I sat quietly in my sixth grade social studies … [Read more...]

An Open Letter to the Shuttle Program

Space Shuttle Discovery viewed by Expedition 23 aboard ISS (April 7, 2010)

Happy Birthday, Space Transportation System (STS). You're 39 years old, today! I know it doesn't feel like a particularly ebullient birthday, since you and your remaining orbiters -- Space Shuttles Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour -- are rapidly approaching mandatory retirement. It's obvious you have a lot of life left in you, as Discovery's repeated delays of her final curtain call (STS-133) make abundantly clear! Unfortunately, you have proven to be much more complicated than your parents … [Read more...]

My NASA Tweetup “Year”

STS-129 NASA Tweetup attendees at the press site

It's New Year's Eve, a day many people reflect on the year that's drawing to a close. As I try to do that, however, I am transported to November 2009 as the starting point of my "year". Why? In November 2009, I achieved a lifelong dream of experiencing a Space Shuttle launch in person at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. I never thought I'd see the Space Shuttle stack with my own eyes, much less witness a launch from the press site just 3 miles away. So many things I never thought I would … [Read more...]