I don’t work for NASA (yet, maybe one day), but it is a great place to visit. That is one of the reasons why I made a whirlwind trip to NASA Headquarters in
on Feb. 13, 2012 for a news briefing on NASA’s fiscal year 2013 budget and then to NASA Glenn in Cleveland, OH on March 2, 2012. Washington D.C.
I was selected by @nasasocial for a tweetup at NASA HQ where chief administrator Charles Bolden was presenting NASA’s FY2013budget. I said whirlwind trip above because I applied to attend it on Feb. 8. I was notified by NASA on the evening of Feb. 10 that I had been selected. I flew out from the Indy airport on Feb. 12. On Monday, Feb. 13, I was in DC visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space museum and NASA HQ.
NASA’s news briefing for the media--including for the first time social media peeps like me--was also broadcast live on NASA TV. The “citizen journalists” selected by NASA to attend this event were seated among journalists representing a variety of media outlets. I was seated in the row directly behind Charles Bolden and before the press conference he turned around to briefly chat with the three of us seated closest to him. He asked where we had come from. To my left was a businesswoman from
. Bolden looked even more surprised and impressed upon hearing I had come from Ohio for this event. I hope information like that makes Bolden and others at NASA see how much the public truly appreciates and respects the work NASA is doing to explore and learn more about the universe under ever increasing budget constraints. Indiana
If you haven’t ever visited NASA HQ on a trip to D.C., you really need to make a stop there next time you’re in the area. Although most areas are off limits to the general public, there is a small gift shop and an impressive “secret” information center adjacent to their library where you can score on all kinds of free NASA swag. Yes, I said free. Posters, pamphlets, stickers, clings, bookmarks, and more all free. The library staff is great and very friendly (and if you’re really nice they might even let you touch a shuttle tile like I got to do!)
I had barely returned from that wonderful trip when I got waitlisted for the NASAGlenn Tweetup in
to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John Glenn being the first American to orbit the earth. For this tweetup I was allowed to take a guest, so my husband Scott and I both got to attend an exciting day of events that started at the Glenn ResearchCenter where we got to tour hangers and experiment labs as well as meet and talk with NASA employees doing all kinds of cool research. We then moved to the official visitors center at the Cleveland, OH Great Lakes Science Center before heading to the main event at Cleveland State University’s . Wolstein Center
We were seated on the main floor among a virtual who’s who of NASA VIPs. Speakers at the tribute to Glenn included NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Glenn Director Ramon "Ray" Lugo. Space shuttle mission STS-95 pilot Steve Lindsey who flew on Glenn’s return flight to space also paid tribute to Glenn with a moving story about how his respect and admiration for Glenn only grew more the more he got to know him. The program culminated with the guest of honor, retired Senator John H. Glenn Jr., speaking to those gathered. For a man of 90 years young, Glenn was witty, charming, and sharp as a tack. He was a very inspirational speaker who said he appreciates the need to look back and recognize achievements such as his and NASA’s, but he is more concerned that we and NASA continue to look and move forward.
Everyone responsible for putting both of these NASA Tweetup’s together did amazing work. I continue to be impressed just not by the scientific work that comes from NASA but also their use of social media to increase their communications reach.
NASA describes their vision as follows: To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.
NASA's vision inspires me to want to do and learn more too. So if you ever want to get a glimpse of the future, feel inspired, and experience something larger than your own little corner of the world, I encourage you to visit NASA too. NASA welcomes the public to visit and tour many of their facilities. Whether it is your first time or a return visit, you too will know that NASA truly is a great place to visit.