Been on Twitter today? Been wondering what the heck the NASA Tweet Up hashtag is all about? Traditionally the folks in Cape Canaveral depend on rocket fuel to boost the space shuttle launch, but this time around, they're going with the power of the people. While the Space Shuttle Endeavour crew readies for the shuttle's final blast off from the Kennedy Space Center, the folks at NASA have engaged 150 Americans to give it a big send-off, 2011-style.
Once a reason for the whole fam to gather 'round the TV, interest in the space shuttle launches has waned in recent years. And with NASA unable to count on whether Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords would be healthy enough to show up to bid husband and astronaut Mark Kelly adieu -- it turns out she is!! -- the folks at the Kennedy Space Center decided to take over the Twittersphere this year to make people tune in.
That means the journalists sharing the news of what's going on inside at Cape Canaveral are a good mix of media-adjacent (including my girl Tricia McKinney -- pictured above trying out a space suit -- who works for MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show but keeps her Twitterstream purely personal rather than associating it with the show), food bloggers (Julie of The Little Kitchen gets us the deets on eats) and brewing company owners (Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewery). That I'm jealous is an understatement. Did you see Tricia in that spacesuit? Not to mention I'm a "real" journalist here, and the gig went to random folks.
But that's really the point, isn't it? That NASA and the space program belongs to the random people of America, the people who have been taking it for granted in the past decade or so? The fact is, we, all Americans, have been putting millions, nay, billions into this thing for decades. But aside from the fascination of a bunch of little kids who have declared themselves ready for astronaut food, you don't see folks stopping in their tracks to watch the latest launch. This even though it's EASIER in this day and age to get a look-see, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and streaming video in the middle of a workday.
A Twitter hashtag, a tweet up powered by people who are "just folks," is a way to harness the power of people who made the Egyptian uprising feel like it was something we could get our arms around, made it feel real and immediate to those of us half a world away. With the personal bits coming out of Cape Canaveral from the ladies and gents on the ground, people who still have the excitement level of being an everyday person invited into the background rather than the jaded journalists, I can't help getting excited about the shuttle launch myself.
Want in? Follow the special list of bloggers and the #NasaTweetUp hashtag, and tell us, will you be watching the Space Shuttle Endeavour make its last trip into the cosmos?
Image via Tricia McKinney