Kennedy News

Allard Beutel
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Stephanie L. Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington

Veronica McGregor
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Sept. 1, 2011
RELEASE : 11-285
NASA Invites 150 Lucky Twitter Followers To Launch Of Lunar Spacecraft
WASHINGTON -- NASA has invited 150 followers of the agency's Twitter account to a two-day launch Tweetup Sept. 7-8. The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the twin lunar-bound GRAIL spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch is targeted for 8:37 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8. The two GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail from crust to core. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about the moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

Tweetup participants were selected from more than 800 people who registered online. They will share their Tweetup experiences with their followers through the social networking site Twitter.

Participants represent the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Spain and the United Kingdom. Attendees from the U.S. come from 32 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 7, NASA will broadcast a portion of the Tweetup when attendees talk with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden; Jim Adams, deputy director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington; Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge; Sami Asmar, GRAIL deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York. To watch the broadcast, visit:

Participants also will tour NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, including a close-up visit to the launch pad.

Reporters interested in interviewing Tweetup attendees should contact Stephanie Schierholz at 202-358-1100 or Reporters interested in covering the afternoon program Sept. 7 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex must secure access through Andrea Farmer by 5 p.m. Sept. 6 at 321-449-4318 or

Previously, NASA invited groups to attend the launch of the Juno spacecraft on its way to Jupiter and to five space shuttle launches: Atlantis' STS-129, STS-132 and STS-135 missions, Discovery's STS-133 mission, and Endeavour's STS-134 mission.

To follow participants on Twitter as they experience the prelaunch events and GRAIL's liftoff, follow the #NASATweetup hashtag and the list of attendees at:

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission. For more information about GRAIL, visit:

To connect with NASA on Twitter and other social networking sites, visit:


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