NASA Glenn's first Tweetup, a social media gathering of Twitter followers from all over the country, occured in Cleveland on Friday, March 2, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's orbital flight on Friendship 7. The Tweetup allowed people who regularly interact with each other via Twitter, to meet in person and discuss their passion for NASA, space and science.
Almost 80 space enthusiasts were chosen to participate in a full day of activities that included a tour of the Zero Gravity Research Facility, Exercise Countermeasures Lab and the Flight Research Building on the Glenn campus where several research aircraft were on display.
"I feel honored that @NASA would give us this access," tweeted Zach McCauley, an engineering student at Penn State-Behrend. McCauley would like to work for NASA someday as a flight engineer.
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Pat Cooney, an aerospace engineer from Savannah, Ga. and self-described "space nerd," brought his brother Nick, a seventh grade student from Indianapolis. "I've been to several NASA Tweetups but the fact that Senator Glenn is part of this makes this one unique," he says.
After the campus tour, the group traveled to the NASA Glenn Visitor's Center at the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland where the Skylab 3 Command Module, space shuttle tiles, rocket models and more were on display.
And then it was on to Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center for the ceremony honoring John Glenn. "Listening to my boyhood hero, John Glenn…priceless!" tweeted astronaut Mike Foreman. Before the Friday event, Foreman had 3 followers. By the time it was over he had 83.
"Inspirational that John Glenn isn't talking about himself, but about wanting America to be leading the way in space exploration," tweeted @KelleyApril during the ceremony. Many tweeps commented about what an inspirational ceremony NASA put together for Glenn.
Following the event, a special news conference was held for the media and Tweetup participants. The first panel consisted of NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, Senator Glenn and NASA Glenn Director Ray Lugo where they took questions. "I am sitting 10 feet away from an American Hero," tweeted Alicia Hansen whose husband Hans is a NASA engineer.
The crowd roared with laughter when Glenn said "This is my first 'TweetOn," adding a new word to the Twitter lexicon.
After Glenn's departure, the Tweetup continued when Ohio astronauts Greg "Box" Johnson, Mike Foreman, and Mike Good joined astronaut Steve Lindsay. "Blue Man Group now up for Q&A, 4 astronauts on stage," tweeted Jamie Rich referring to the astronauts in their blue flight suits. They answered many questions about being in space, the future of NASA and manned space flights.
The group left with the sense that they not only learned more about NASA, but could make a difference by being advocates for the program in their own communities. They also felt connected to NASA and each other. As Jamie Rich put it, "#NASATweetup, #NASAGlenn may be over, but the memories and friendships last a lifetime!"
Nancy Smith Kilkenny, SGT Inc.
NASA’s Glenn Research Center