Have you ever heard of a NASA Social? They are kind of cool. A NASA Social event is an informal meeting of people who engage with NASA social media accounts. The ones that happen here locally are usually at the Space Center and involve a behind the scenes look at an upcoming launch and a tour of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Kind of cool, right? More information can be found out at their website https://www.nasa.gov/connect/social/index.html
I only bring this up because I was just received a notice I have been accepted to the NASA Social that is happening April 15th & 16th that will revolve around the launch of the TESS aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9. On April 15th myself and a group of other local participants will meet at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, loaded on a bus, tour the Air Force Station and Space Center, and get amazing behind the scenes experience. We will hear from NASA and SpaceX at a pre-launch briefing. We will have an opportunity to speak with the scientist and engineers that made TESS and it’s instruments a reality. We will also receive press passes to get an exceptionally close view of the launch too! I know what your thinking…What is TESS? It is a Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. The TESS mission is NASA’s next planet hunter. TESS will scan nearly the entire sky and is expected to find thousands of new planets outside our solar system. A very new and very improved Hubble telescope! Do you want to learn more about TESS and the mission? Click here to learn more about the mission!
This is not the first time for me to do something like this. These socials used to be called NASA Tweetups a few years back. I was chosen in 2013 to participate in a Tweetup that was sponsored by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) at the Space Center. This was a 2-day event with Day 1 was a behind the scenes tour of the Canaveral Air Force Station and the launch facilities. We were able to see the beach houses the astronauts used in the 60’s, an inside look at the Morrell Operation Center, which we were told is a rare occurrence, we watched the AtlasV roll out to the launch pad, and had the opportunity to get pretty close to the rocket. Below are some of the photos I had taken that day.
The payload for this launch was the SBIRS GEO-2 is the second satellite in the Space-Based Infrared System, SBIRS, a US Air Force program to detect ballistic missile launches and provide the United States with advance warning of potential nuclear attacks. The next day, we had press passes to go back to the air force station and witness the launch from about 2 miles from the pad. The experience was amazing! Here is more information regarding the payload https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/03/ula-atlas-v-launch-sbirsgeo/
Yes, this was a very cool event to be a part of. Yes, I cannot wait for April 15 & 16. If you want to come along on the tour/journey; I will be doing my part and posting on my social platforms. I will also put the 2 days experience together for a YouTube video.
The NASA Socials are an ongoing thing. They have events here at the Space Center and other locations throughout the country. They can be anywhere from a 2-hour event to the 2-day event I have the opportunity to see. Here is the calendar for all of the scheduled events. https://www.nasa.gov/connect/social/index.html
If you are on Twitter, you can follow them here: https://twitter.com/NASASocial (this is where I saw they started doing these again!)