Few get to travel to outer space. A few more—though still not very many—get to witness it happen up close.
One of the select few who will be in person for the April 29 scheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavor—the craft’s 25th and final blastoff and the second-to-last shuttle mission—is Rochester Institute of Technology alumna Stephanie Collins. The 2009 graduate will be at Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, April 28–29 as part of a NASA “Tweetup”—a two-day immersion in NASA with 149 fellow Twitter users.
Collins was randomly selected to participate in the event from among more than 4,100 NASA “tweeps”—people who follow @NASA on the microblogging site Twitter.
“It’s truly an understatement to say that I’m honored to be selected, considering this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Collins says of the scheduled activities that include an up-close view of Endeavor’s 3:47 p.m. launch on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station. Commander Mark Kelly will lead the six-member shuttle crew. Kelly is the husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is continuing her recovery after being shot in January.
In addition to viewing the launch from the media area—three miles closer than a public-viewing site—the 150 @NASA followers will tour Kennedy Space Center; go behind the scenes at NASA facilities and events; speak with scientists, engineers, astronauts and managers; and attend a “meet and greet” session with fellow “tweeps” and members of the NASA social-media team. The group also will meet celebrity attendees LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Seth Green (Austin Powers, Family Guy).
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory hosted the first NASA Tweetup in January 2009.
Collins, of Fairfax, Va., earned her RIT degree in multidisciplinary studies. She writes the blog, “Poorer Than You,” which focuses on “money issues for college students and 20-somethings, without being boring.” The blog was featured in a 2007 article in The New York Times, “Debtors Search for Discipline via Blogs.” Collins also works in customer-service operations for the website ThinkGeek. She can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/stephonee.
For more on the NASA “Tweetup,” go to: www.nasa.gov/connect/tweetup/index.html
For more on the Endeavor mission (STS-134), go to: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts134/index.html
For more on Kennedy Space Center, go to: www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/home/index.html