Since Katy shared her NASA Tweetup experience from the last Endeavour launch at Kennedy Space Center, I found myself campaigning for a NASA Tweet Up of our own here in Cleveland. Yes, that might have included a plethora of pleading tweets to the @NASATweetUp Twitter account. When it was announced that a NASA Tweetup would be hold on March 2 in conjunction with the “Celebrating John Glenn’s Legacy: 50 Years of Americans in Orbit” event, I was amped. I applied and, thank-the-Lord, was accepted as one of the 100 tweeps to attend this historic day.
Bright and early that Friday, Hans and I arrived at the NASA Glenn’s Developmental Engineering Building for check-in and registration. While Hans is a NASA Glenn employee, he needed my tweetup credentials to get access to this uber exclusive experience!
We were split into four touring groups (thus the blue star on my badge) and were promptly boarded on to buses and transported to base where we were welcomed by Glenn’s Center Director Ray Lugo and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. The excitement in their voices confirmed we were in for quite the day. From there, the blue/red groups bus headed to our first tour stop: the National Center for Space Exploration Research:
The blue group geared up in blue gowns to enter the Exercise Countermeasures Lab where we learned about how important it is for astronauts to stay in shape – both on Earth and in space. The lab had a set up that mocked exercising in a zero gravity environment:
I almost asked if I could go for a run on it, but I decided to save my legs for the long day ahead.
The passion the NASA Glenn employees have for their jobs was already evident and we were only at our first major stop of the day. They were excited to have us join them in their workspace – and after seeing the cool stuff they work on, I understood why!
From the lab, we headed to the Zero Gravity Research Facility, NASA’s premier facility for ground based microgravity research, and the largest facility of its kind in the world.
The stats on this lab are astounding: this is the home of a 467 foot long steel vacuum chamber. The chamber is 20 feet wide and is housed inside of a 28.5 feet wide concrete lined shaft that extends 510 feet below ground level. I was nervous to take pictures into the chamber as I was afraid to drop my iPhone and lose it for good!
Back to the buses & on to the base’s hangar where we first found a pop-up version of the gift shop. Of course, I found interest in the varieties of ice cream for sale: both freeze-dried, but also available in dots! And both gluten-free!
There were several activities to check out in the hangar including an opportunity to Picture Yourself in Space. My wannabe astronaut was all over this one:
While surrounded by some amazing aircrafts, we had the chance to recharge our electronics – thank goodness for the provided power strips! – as well as chat with our fellow tweet up participants.
I was quite impressed by the tweeps that traveled from all over America to attend the NASA Glenn Tweet Up. From Oregon, Texas, Florida and everywhere in between, the Cleveland contingent was quite out numbered, but we were happy to share our Northeast Ohio love with our newly made friends. Although I think we scared off a few with our talk of the benefits of yoga and late night Taco Bell runs…
Our next stop was found after a quick bus ride North on I-71: the NASA Glenn Visitor Center at Great Lakes Science Center. Upon arrival to the exhibits area, it’s hard to miss the Skylab 3 Apollo Command Module, the actual space vessel that travelled to the Skylab Space Station in 1973.
Ken – who happens to be a member of the same golf league that Hans plays on – did a great job of showing us all the highlights of the Visitor Center, including many models of rockets, shuttle engines & lunar landers. The Visitor Center was previously located at the NASA Glenn base but was recently moved to the GLSC. According to their website, Phase II of the exhibits is set to open in 2012!
During our lunch break, we had the chance to watch an educational demonstration by one of the GLSC employees. Amanda lead us through Newton’s 3rd law of motion: for every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action (which I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve forgotten after all these years).
While science was never my strong suit, I always appreciate the opportunity for a good refresher now and then!
Our time at the Great Lakes Science Center was short as we had places to be – specifically the “Celebrating John Glenn’s Legacy: 50 Years of Americans in Orbit” event at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. We had had a blast already, but little did Hans and I know that our favorite parts of the day were yet to occur…