Life, art, and complaints of Cat Razim

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Florida Day 3 – First Day of NASATweetUp

What. a. day.

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed from all that happened today.

This morning we had to arrive in time for the 9am start of events. A well structured full-day of awesome. I arrived a bit early, much like everyone else, to explore the area where we’ll be spending the majority of that day and next. The VIP site was well inside the property of NASA. And yes. I almost got lost even with all the signs posted. I’m just that special.

Oh.. you know that clock? The iconic countdown clock? THE clock… yeah. I can already tell you’re jealous.

The infamous countdown clock!

The famous count-down cock! It's HUGE!

Just to warn you.. this post is just as huge as the clock. I won’t feel bad if you skip the reading parts and just scrolled to see the pictures.

9AM started with introductions of those who organized the event, then a pass-the-mic introduction of all the participants.  What’s your name, Twitter handle and something about yourself. Simple and to the point as there were 150+ of us. I sat in the corner at the “left-over” table which was inconveniently outlet free. Fortunately, our table neighbor was more than willing to share their power strip.  As unloved as this table was I couldn’t complain- I had a direct line of site to the podium, sat next to the AC unit (which worked the latter half of the morning :P ) and a speaker right behind me. I never missed a word. The best part of my seat? I didn’t bother anyone when I stood to take pictures. Being by the entrance where the VIP speakers came in didn’t hurt either. Best seat in the house… er.. #Twent, in my opinion!

Full Twent of Tweeps!

Full Twent of Tweeps at a Twitter TweetUp Event!

Are you Curious about this wheel I'm holding?

Are you Curious about this wheel I'm holding?

With introductions over with, we were right on schedule to hear from people whom worked on the project. I’m not going to lie. I felt like I was the only one there that didn’t understand a lot of the techie/science stuff. I try. I’m really interested in everything, but some engineering jokes. whoosh. right over the head.

I will say, however, when we were told about the Plutonium-238 that was required to power Curiosity, I couldn’t help but think about this:

Dr. Emmett Brown: No, no, no, no, no. This sucker’s electrical. But I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.
Marty McFly: Doc, you don’t just walk into a store and-and buy plutonium. Did you rip that off?
Dr. Emmett Brown: Shhhhhh. Of course. From a group of Libyan nationalists. They wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their plutonium and in turn, gave them a shiny bomb-casing full of used pinball machine parts! Come on! Let’s get you a radiation suit. We must prepare to reload.

Oh Back to the Future… But I need to state that we did obtain the Plutonium-238 legally. From Russia, sans pinball machine parts. XD

Once the talks were over we broke for lunch. A Water and a blueberry Cliff bar later, I packed up my laptop and my big camera gear to get ready for the 4-hour tour. This is when I began to hum the tune to Gilligan’s Island. My mind is weird.

Tour Guide

Bus number 4 Tour guide!

Our first stop was the VAB or the Vehicle Assembly Building.  This building is huge!  How huge, you ask? Volume, we’re talking about 3.5 Empire State buildings. Still don’t understand the crazy girth of this building?



A single star on the American flag? SIX FEET TALL! Wait for it. Wait for it… There ya go.

That's.. kinda tall

That's... kinda tall...

Inside the VAB - looking up

Inside the VAB - looking up.

I seriously wish someone was up there looking down so it would demonstrate scale. This place was seriously huge. Scary huge. Did I mention huge?!

As many know (actually, many people do NOT know this) but the Shuttle Program has ended. As sad as it is,  it is also a great opportunity to start something new. That said, the old must make way for the new. Endeavour was there parked inside the VAB. It was being decommissioned and prepared for immortality at the California Science Center. Though it will have a good home and be viewed by many at its new resting place, I still couldn’t help but cry a little. I wasn’t the only one.

Endeavour - As it sleeps, we will remember.

Endeavour - As it sleeps, we will remember.

Tears shed, we continued on with the tour. Back on the bus we travelled deeper into Cape Canaveral. Past an infamous Beach House which has probably seen a lot of action over the years. They say there is a room full of empty wine bottles with the signatures of every man and woman that has been set to launch into space. I said prove it. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to see.

If walls could talk

If walls could talk...

Apollo 1 launch pad

More tears were shed. The Apollo 1 launch pad.

“They gave their lives in service to their country in the ongoing exploration of humankind’s final frontier. Remember them not for how they died but for those ideals for which they lived.”- Written on a plaque commemorating Apollo 1

We were a bit early when we arrived at the next stop on our tour that we never got a chance to get close. But we could still feel it. This is part of the beginning chapters of Space Exploration. This is the past that helped bring us to where we are now. As the bus turned around and left we literally traveled the road to the present… to the reason 150 strangers were brought together that day.

The view from the Bus - Curiosity

The view from the bus ...

Dearest friend Zach, standing a football field's length away from the Atlas 5 holding Curiosity.

All set and waiting for the start of its journey the following day, the Mars Space Laboratory sat patiently in the Atlas V rocket. Separated by only the span of a football field, an electrified fence, and a man with a specific authority holding a weapon I am not familiar with and didn’t wish to be on the wrong end of, we stood in awe. Another wonderful gentleman was there telling us about the rocket and his part in this mission to Mars. I wish I remembered his name. Why am I so horrible with names?! Maybe because I was focused on the rocket that was going to be shot into space in under a day that I didn’t pay attention. Or was it the 5 ft margin of space that we were warned not to enter or we’d be in the rifle-man’s cross-hairs? No, I think I was yelling at myself for not bringing my telephoto lens so I could have better shots of the rocket. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Back on the bus we had one more stop to make – The Saturn V center. Filled with a lot more tourists than the rest of the tour, we walked through this building, watched a movie, and sat through the recorded countdown of, I think, the Apollo 8 launch. But what was awesome was the Saturn V rocket they had on display. My jaw was on the floor.

Saturn V - Blast end

Saturn V - Blast end

“These beings, with soaring imaginations, eventually flung themselves and their machines into interplanetary space.”-Carolyn Porco

Time was up. We all filed back onto the bus and, with a setting sun, traveled back to the parking lot between the VAB and the Twent to leave for the day. I stood by my car and couldn’t move for a long time. Nothing I could do or say would accurately describe how I felt. From when I woke up that morning to when the sun set I was involved with so many people, sharing with them excitement and sadness and hope. So much history. I felt an overwhelming pride for what we, as a people, had accomplished. However, there was also a small pain deep in my chest. So much of that pride is only shared by a fraction of the population now compared to back then…

Thus the existence of the NASA TweetUps! To spread the word of how awesome and important this endeavor is! We have barely made a scratch into the depths of space and we are still so young! I hope that this pride and inspiration will return, and I hope to be a part of it!

VAB after sunset

VAB after sunset

posted by Cathy Razim at 12:33 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress