A space tweep is a person who uses Twitter and has found, registered, tweeted about and enjoyed a Tweetup. A Tweetup is an in-person meeting of like-minded followers of an organization or each other. [See the Space Tweep Society, of which I am a proud member!]
After conducting the New Orleans Civic Symphony that evening, I prepared my suitcase and got to sleep by 1:00 a.m. only to wake up at 3 and leave for Fla. Driving straight there, a ten-hour drive), I was exhausted, but I had helped plan the pre-Tweetup dinner so I wasn't about to miss that.
I met amazing people at every corner and there was a super exchange of pins, patches stickers, and mlore. I was in heaven. Things that my friends speak critically of or for which they give me the "you're a dork" look, EVERYONE was excited about. Multiple folks also had a myriad of bumper stickers so I felt accepted. :-)
After dinner, I drove from Titusville to the Orlando airport and picked up a college student who needed a ride for the event. Then, I crashed at a Quality Inn where other Tweeps were staying. The next couple of days were PACKED with fun at the Kennedy Space Center, swag (pins, cups, shirts, free goodies from Lockheed Martin and NASA and the United Launch Alliance), etc. There were lectures by the engineering team, I got to meet Scott Maxwell, the Mars Rover Driver, and we were given a free pass to the Kennedy Space Center.
Launch day: After meeting at the countdown clock at an insanely early hour, we had several speakers and I got to meet Bill Nye the Science Guy (also the head of The Planetary Society ) and some more astronauts AND got to say hello to Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator. SO much press was there, but we had special spots. Then, the launch itself was BREATHTAKING. I have never seen anything leave this Earth, never to return. It was also a little scary. I can remember the Challenger breaking up into pieces while watching it at school - everyone in shock. We had toured the whole launch area the day before and got to stand outside the gate where the MSL was atop an AtlasV rocket. I actually cannot believe that they let us into that area, but they did! Amazing! The actual launch viewing and countdown clock location was several miles away. Sitting there in the sun, we all counted down from 10 to zero and then youj could hear a TINY beeping sound from someone's Mission iPhone app and then we saw a tiny light. It ascended into the sky quickly and we were in awe....then we all cheered and jumped up and down. I had tears coming down my face and so did a LOT of people there. Then, we felt a rumble and heard a LOUD sound as those waves reached us! More cheering!!!!!!!! It is something that I will never ever forget!!!
Here are links to more pictures from my Facebook albums!
Also, Here is the article which was in the Thanksgiving Day newspaper in New Orleans. My friends Matt & Beth Rota saw it and let me know it had gotten on the front page!
NASA Invitation Puts Musician on Cloud Nine