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Monthly archive April, 2012

TheSpaceport.us – It’s the other side of space!

Space, Astronomy, Science, NASA

It's the other side of space!

Hello Space Fans!

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce all of you to TheSpaceport.us. We are a Space/Astronomy/Everything forum site with some really great members. We talk about everything from technology and space to politics and aviation. We discuss upcoming and current space missions including those in the private sector. We have some very educated individuals that add a lot of great knowledge and debate to the site. Along with some great aviation history buffs and former military members who actually worked with and on the aircraft!

We are always looking for some new and exciting members to share our love for technology and all things space! We are a good bunch of people that love to make new friends and discuss our passions for science and technology. Come visit us and start talking about the other side of space at TheSpaceport.us!

Keep looking up!

@mtclemente (Delphinus on TheSpaceport)

#OV101toNYC Tweetup

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New York area residents: We are about to get the coolest new neighbor to ever arrive in this area. I am, of course, talking about the prototype orbiter Enterprise, the vehicle that started the wonderful long-running Shuttle Transportation System program by proving you could actually glide back to the surface of the Earth in what’s lovingly dubbed a “flying brick”.

Last week I was lucky enough to be at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to see Discovery (my favorite orbiter) arrive and Enterprise move out of the home where she has delighted visitors for many years. They are things of beauty beyond words, both of them, and I’m still marveling that one will be easily accessible right in the heart of the Hudson side of Manhattan.

In Virginia, NASA hosted a #NASASocial for that event but the incredible part was how many Space Tweeps showed up for what was dubbed the “Rogue Tweetup”. Approximately 200 tweeps (from what I can gather) joined in the celebrations and had a wonderful time meeting each other or seeing friends from previous tweetups, launches, and other gatherings.

The best part of the week, in my opinion, was not the day of the transfer of Discovery to the Smithsonian, but the day she flew over both her new home and the city of DC. Images of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with her precious cargo over the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and other landmarks are stunning and oh, so poignant.

So, think about it: What’s the one backdrop even cooler than those landmarks? The New York City skyline!

As of now, the most accurate plans I’ve heard include flying up the Hudson River past our local landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and her future home on the Intrepid. With this in mind, tweetup ideas have been flying around and it’s time to make them official. As one tweep said, “You can either be in Manhattan and get New Jersey as the backdrop or you can be in New Jersey and get the skyline.” That made it obvious that the ideal location would be Pier A in Hoboken, easily reachable by PATH train from the city, is a major NJ Transit hub, and lacking in city tolls for anyone driving in from the suburbs and beyond (with big parking garages near the site).

The flight has been postponed several times already and is now planned for Friday, April 27th. The timing isn’t exact but I’ve been hearing it should be around 10 am – 1 pm, but Discovery was a half-hour early in DC, so I would plan to arrive between 9 and 9:30 to set up cameras and such. I will keep updating this page if things change again and with more plans as they are formed, so keep an eye on this or follow me or the hashtag #OV101toNYC on Twitter.

Let’s show this bird that New York is thrilled to have her! Sign up here so we can have a ballpark headcount and join the Facebook group if you want to discuss any further ideas. I’d like to do something to celebrate every stage of her arrival, so I will keep the group active until she is installed in her permanent home this fall, at least.

  • What: OV-101 Enterprise NYC Flyover Tweetup
  • When: Friday, April 27th at 9:30 AM
  • Where: Pier A Park in Hoboken, NJ
  • Sign up now

11 Space and Science things to do before you’re 11

50 things to do before you're 11 3/4Fifty things to do before you’re 11 and three quarters. This is the title of a bucket list for children by the UK’s National Trust (@nationaltrust). Besides being a great inspiration for kids at an age that they never know what to do, it serves as a signal for parents that many children are raised as couch potatoes. Children lose touch with the outdoors, don’t know where their food comes from, and become afraid to get their hands dirty. So with a list of 1) climbing a tree, 2) running down a really big hill, 3) camp out in the wild and 47 other cool activities, kids are stimulated to get out there and be inspired by nature.

Inspired by space

Personally I think space and science suffer a similar fate as the great outdoors. For some reason the beforementioned young couch potatoes are out of touch with science and space. So where @nationaltrust is luring kids to get out there and do 50 cool things in the outdoors, us spacetweeps should make an effort to get them to experience 11 cool things in space and science. (more…)

Yuri’s Night Trivia Questions (yes with answers!)

So Erin Bonilla (@EBon) asked me to work up the trivia contest questions for this year’s Yuri’s Night in DC at the Science Club. I decided it would be a fun resource to make available so I made two files – one with answers, and one without.  Print out the one WITHOUT answers to give to your victims participants and give them 30 or so minutes to answer, collect and score then hand out the prizes (you DO need prizes! 🙂 ) and answer sheets.  People had a lot of fun with this one, all the questions got at least one right answer, and nobody got a perfect score so I think it’s pretty balanced!
Here ya go!

The one WITH answers

Obviously the one WITHOUT answers





One Question – A Once in a Lifetime experience

Today, at 9:15am CT I will be on hold – on a phone call. It will be one of few times in my life that waiting for the other person to be available on the other end of the line, will be both understandable and pretty awesome.

Yesterday, I was offered the opportunity by NASA to participate in this morning’s ISS, Expedition 30 press conference. What does participation mean? It means I get to ask one question to the crew – via that phone call (the one I’ll be on hold for). So, one more dream come true, one more item off of my bucket list and one question, one incredible opportunity via NASA!

So.. follow along this morning with the following hashtags: #askStation, #ISS, #NASA and #Exp30. Oh, and while I get to ask one question via the phone, you get the chance to ask a question via Twitter! Start submitting questions using #askStation and, if there’s enough time, the Expedition 30 crew will get a few questions from the twitterverse! How awesome is that?!?!

Oh.. and while I have a few questions in mind.. feel free to tweet me some suggestions! 🙂 @johnmknight

Zoo calling space

Space events are everywhere. But even the more seasoned space enthusiast will not easily end up at a zoo. Yesterday Artis Amsterdam Zoo organized a live inflight call with ESA astronaut André Kuipers. As it happens, André Kuipers is a fan and  ambassador of the zoo. He even took the zoo mascotte ‘Artis de Marsis’ up into the ISS with him. To honor this good relationship between the zoo and ‘its’ astronaut, the zoo organized a live connection with ISS for zoo friends and local schools. (more…)


February 8th, 2010. That day will last forever in my memory. It was the day a small group of Space Tweeps gathered in a hotel in Greenbelt, MD in anticipation of the first Goddard NASAtweetup for the launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory but realized there was no way our tweetup was going to happen due to the “Snowpocalypse”. I casually joked, “Why don’t we just drive down to Florida to watch it launch,” and the next thing you know, we were on our way. That action is precisely what makes this group different from any other I’ve been part of. We don’t just talk and tweet, we DO.

Last night AMC aired the movie Contact and it lit Twitter up with discussions  that mutated into talking about the book it was based on. It turns out a lot of us either had not read it or it had been years since we had. This lead to suggestions of other great books to read and I suddenly thought, “Why don’t we have a book club?” My following tweet about the idea garnered a lot of enthusiastic responses and I’m excited to say that it’s already a reality.

After a lot of research into hosting an online book club and debates with several people about using existing social networks to facilitate it, my-bookclub.com stood out as the best option. Each club on the site gets it’s own discussion forum and chat room and every member can set up their own virtual bookshelf to share what they are reading these days as well as share in the group’s bookshelf. Most importantly, it’s completely free (minus the cost of books if you have to buy them, of course).

There is still a lot of work to be done in organizing this (e.g. how often should we have chats? How often should books be “due”?) but I have great faith that together we will develop this into something amazing and learn a lot from each other along the way.

The first book will be Contact, since it inspired the club, but we will be reading all sorts of books, fiction and non-fiction, that have to do with space and exploration. This is a great opportunity to find books you didn’t know about or just find extra motivation to read the ones you’ve been meaning to read. Anyone can suggest books and we will choose selections democratically after Contact.

Love to read about space and want to participate? Just go to http://www.my-bookclub.com/bookclub/space-tweeps-book-club/ . You will have to join the site first (or sign in using your Facebook credentials) and then make sure to click the “Join” button on the club’s page. You will be added as soon as your request is seen.

Hope to see you there!

@ATVtweetup – watching ATV-3 to ISS docking

@ATVtweetup - watching ATV-3 to ISS docking

On 24 March, the French National Space Agency (CNES, @CNES_france) and the European Space Agency (ESA, @esa) invited 60 Twitter users to follow the ATV-3 “Edoardo Amaldi” docking to the Interntational Space Station (ISS) from the ATV Control Centre (ATV-CC) in Toulouse. It was the first Spacetweetup for me and it was marvellous! Many thanks for @Jools_MY, who gave me the info about this opportunity.

Social meeting day before ATV-3 docking/Credits: @cpamoa

Social meeting the day before ATV-3 docking/Credits: @cpamoa

Social event
Our schedule was very tight. On the evening before the docking day few of us met in gorgeous restaurant “Le Florida” in front of Toulouse’s Capitol for @AperoSpatial. Food was delicious. We were talking about space and watching French acrobats jumped on see-saw. Among our group was @SpaceKate, @janemacarthur, @cpamoa, @danielscuka, @ericarolfe, @AndreasSchepers, @idariane, @ScottNyood. Later, the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo) joined us, and showed us some “magic astronaut tricks”. Paolo was special guest of the @ATVtweetup.



Space City in Toulouse

In Space City with Ariane 5 mock-up/Credits: @imperator_jarek

In Space City with Ariane 5 mock-up/Credits: @imperator_jarek

Next day, in the morning our small group (@DCirioni_AVDA, @cpamoa, @GENSO_UVa, @ScottNyood and me @imperator_jarek) visited the Space City in Toulouse. Weather was great, with +27 degrees of Celsius.
We saw an amazing mock-up of Ariane 5, almost the same scale as natural. The difference between original is small, only few meters, because of height restrictions of no more than 50 meters,  related to the local aero-field localisation. We had a possibility to feel like Russian astronauts thanks to the short trip of  the mock-up of the space station Mir.
The best part of the trip was to watch the Hubble 3D-movie and visit a special Mars exhibition, where a lot of interactive shows were available and all Mars rovers were presented.
Among these, the best of the bests was a device, which let you feel like astronaut walking on the Moon or Mars. It was a breathtaking experience!
Thanks to @florenceseroussi and @oliviersanguy – who arranged an access to almost every part of the Space City. Also thanks to @oliviersanguy, who has really great knowledge about the space.  The tour with him, during which he was telling us many interesting details about the outer space was a real pleasure. Thank you Olivier!

Marvellous ATC Control Centre room in Toulouse/Credits: @imperator_Jarek

Marvellous ATV Control Centre room in Toulouse/Credits: @imperator_Jarek


@henningkrause during @ATVtweetup/Credits: @cpamoa

@henningkrause during @ATVtweetup/Credits: @cpamoa

After the tour we went to the @CNES Centre in Toulous with the rest of the Tweeps. The official part of the @ATVtweetup has then started.  We received many interesting materials about ESA, CNES and ATV – for example a comprehensive ATV-3 information kit. After the programme review, made by organizers,  everyone made a quick presentations about themselves. We were a very diverse group and some of us participated in several @Spacetweetup events before this one (famous @SpaceKate for example). For some
others (such as me) it was first time. For some, it was even first time in Europe, like for @mountainbase123 from Japan – she travelled specially for this @ATVtweetup!
First TweetupTalk was held by Massimo Cislaghi, the ATV-3 Mission Manager, who made an ATV-3 Mission Overview. We received many interesting information about the role that ATV plays in the European space industry and the European contribution to ISS project, ATV capabilities in comparison to some other space vehicles and ATV future.

Massimi Cislaghi, ATV-3 Mission Manager talks about ATV-3 capabilities/Credits: @imperator_jarek

Massimi Cislaghi, ATV-3 Mission Manager talks about ATV-3 capabilities/Credits: @imperator_jarek

Second TweetupTalk presentation was made by Bernard Cabrieres, who introduced us to CNES/CST and ATV Control Centre. It’s a pity, but because of temporary technical problems with my laptop I could not listen this presentation. It was a good lesson for everyone – remember to take with you tested devices, not the old ones! Almost three hours before the docking, we were split into two groups and visited the ATV- Control Center. It is hard to describe by words how amazing it is. I really envy ATV operators their jobs. It looks amazing – you can see it on photos.

After the tour, the third TweetupTalk started – made by an Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli (@astro_paolo), author of the one of the most notable photo made in space, member of the STS-120 and Sojuz TMA-20 missions. Paolo took active part in the docking of ATV-2 “Johannes Kepler” in February 2011. Paolo, during great presentation,  told us about astronauts responsibilities during ATV docking. ISS specialists estimates that the astronaut’s support during ATV docking, which results in postponing their normal responsibilities costs 60 000 dolars/hour.

Intensive time for organizers/Credits: @imperator_jarek

Intensive time for organizers/Credits: @imperator_jarek

After Paolo presentation we have a chance to speak individually with some ESA/CNES engineers and ATV specialists. I regret that I didn’t prepare list of questions, but I learn of a lot – mainly about ATV rendezvous phrases. My additional task during the @ATVtweetup was to provide a thorough account of the ATV docking for kosmonauta.net (@kosmonauta_net). Because of so many things in almost the same time (TweetupTalks, discussions with experts, taking photos, making videos, tweeting, facebooking, watch docking broadcasting from ESA/CNES) it was really difficult to notice everything! Great experience!

Having this opportunity I would like to thank organizers for this amazing event. Mixing @Spacetweetup & ATV-3 docking was great idea. I think that everyone from us will remember  especially the ATV control room and will be inspired to do more and more.

My new friends, I hope to see you soon! Seeing you and and spending time with you, sharing common passion of space was unforgettable adventure for me 🙂