Tweet,two,one … Liftoff!

Group photo ofThere was something different this time.  From the veteran reporters and public affairs officers at the NASA News Center to mission managers in the firing room, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was buzzing about the fresh burst of enthusiasm as the clock ticked toward liftoff of Atlantis on STS-129.

In the shadow of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building and just a quick stroll from the famous countdown clock sat a white tent filled with 100 NASA Twitter followers from 21 states, the District of Columbia as well as Canada, England, Morocco and New Zealand.

They came to Florida from all over for a two-day Tweetup (an informal meet-up of people using the social media tool Twitter), including a tour of the center and a chance to talk to the people that help send the shuttle to space. They got an up close look at shuttle hardware and face-to-face time with astronauts and reporters. Some were pleasantly surprised to become part of the story themselves, as members of the news media came looking for interviews.

But for many, it was simply about the joy of being there. One was overheard telling a reporter, “NASA could’ve bused us out to a big field and let us watch the launch and we would’ve been thrilled, but they did so much more.” Twitter user Karim Jazouani from Casablanca, Morocco, uses his laptop

So what’s all the fuss about? Think of Twitter as an ongoing conversation with a few thousand of your closest friends. There may have been only 100 “tweeps” in that tent, but many more were following the conversation using the #nasatweetup hashtag (988 according to one metrics site). The people who attended have more than 150,000 followers among them. And many media outlets reported on the event, spreading the excitement even further.

It’s not just “how many?” but “who?” Some web users, no matter how much they’re interested in space, aren’t coming directly to for their news.  There’s a whole generation of web users who get their news and share their interests on social media sites. Engaging with them on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and other sites is bringing the story of NASA to new audiences that may not otherwise connect with us.

Tweeters who came to NASA Headquarters in October got to talk live to the International Space Station, and others have talked with shuttle crews and scientists exploring Mars and Saturn. About a dozen NASA Astronauts are tweeting already, sometimes from orbit. One — Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike) — has more than a million followers. You can find NASA Twitter accounts and other social media efforts on the NASA Connect page.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

8 thoughts on “Tweet,two,one … Liftoff!”

  1. The STS-129 NASA Tweetup was an amazing experience that I will remember forever. Thanks to all of you at NASA for showing 100 of twitter’s finest the best Launch of our lives.


  2. I was unable to attend, but got to experience this event through my fellow Tweeps who were there. And although I am one of the people who watch launches, mission, landings, etc. as much as I can, being able to read what my friends at the launch were experiencing made this mission even more personal. I can only hope NASA will be doing this for future events, and I can be one of the participants.

    The coverage that was given this mission because of the Tweet-up definitely shows the power and outreach of social media such as Twitter, and how this “as-it-happens” reporting by “citizen journalists” brings an immediacy to reported events, plus a personal connection to said events.

    While traditional media outlets filed their stories and went on the air just minutes before launch, people world-wide were able to know what was happening moment by moment by the “Twitter Reporters” on the scene.

    And it doesn’t stop with the people tweeting from the launch site. Their followers read the tweets, and then pass them on, or “retweet” them to their own followers, which ends up spreading the word in a much greater way than normal broadcast reporting. And the best part? Their enthusiasm is contagious, and is easily spread to people who may not know much about NASA and space travel, but who now have had their lukewarm interest intensified.

    Which is a good thing for all.

  3. I have been inundated with questions about the NASA tweetup event and shuttle launch since I returned to California. Local schools event requested I give presentations about NASA and the Tweetup event. I gladly accepted, of course! This event was so much more than simply 100 people tweeting about a shuttle launch. It helped to open minds of people in my community, and communities worldwide, who had slowly forgotten about the importance of NASA and the space program. I learned so much during my short time with NASA that needs to be shared with others. History. Dignity. Integrity. Passion. Pride. These terms only scratch the surface of the NASA team. Watching a launch on television doesn’t begin to compare to being there in person. You can’t feel, smell or touch a launch from a sofa at home. A camera can never capture the true sight of the panorama at the moment of liftoff. The roar of the engines and the silence of the crowd as it prays for a safe departure. I got one of the most unbelievable experiences of my life this past week and I am extremely proud of all of the work that NASA does. I know this tweetup event reached far beyond the border of our Twitter followers. Keep up the great work NASA. I’ll be doing my part to promote you and encourage others, watching and cheering for you every step of the way. Forever.

    Chris Floyd – @CMFloyd

  4. If the goal of the NASA tweetup was to give 100 people an incredible experience that they will not keep quiet about, then this was a success.

    I cannot think of any other experience that could even compare to seeing the launch and the tours and the talks.

  5. Whew Hew! America has just gotten a booster shot of profound Patriotism! NASA has risen above the recession! Now, us land lovers must look to this brave, intelligent crew and get fired up! Americans can rise above adversity when we work together. God Bless the ISS crew and God Bless America!

  6. Not to sound too much like an old curmudgeon whose lone deference to technology is a mechanical dial telephone, but Twitter, Facebook, et al, is just so much “noise” to me.

    Try to condense the Gettysburg Address to 140 characters while retaining Lincoln’s message.

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