It’s official…I’m a fan of coddling!

DNU Paul

I’ve never met anyone who’s opposed to being coddled from time to time. It doesn’t matter who you are – getting a little extra attention and red carpet treatment once in a while can go a long way – it can even be unforgettable.

If there was any doubt before, I’m making it official…I’m a fan of coddling! The reason? NASA.

Since being selected for the STS-135 NASATweetup, I’ve read all the emails saying that, as attendees, we’ll get special treatment. I’ve also read the experiences from past attendees saying the same thing.

The bottom line? You have to experience it to truly believe it. To be honest, we’re all still awestruck.

Jess, my carpool buddy, and I first felt it yesterday morning as we parked the car. As expected, we parked near the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Not as expected, however, was the fact that our parking pass put us in the lot literally adjacent to the VAB – a mere quarter-mile or less from the press area. We were feeling pretty good.

Within minutes, it got better. We couldn’t believe the energy in the press area. It was electric. TV satellite trucks and reporters were everywhere! In fact, we learned that this launch has the most registered press of any shuttle launch since the John Glenn flight when he went back on the Shuttle.

The point is this. Whether you’re a fan of space travel or not, this is an incredible place to be. This is where everything happens, and my ticket gets me in the middle of it all. Coddling? Yeah, I’m definitely a fan! Check this out.

- How often do you get to sit in a relatively small group and listen/meet some of the top geniuses (and I mean that literally) that make NASA tick? Or, go on a VIP tour of the Kennedy Space Center, where even a few NASA employees tag along because they’ve never been to the places we were going?

- Not to mention that our Tweetup location, a temporary tent, is located no more than 75 yards from the iconic countdown clock – providing unbelievable views of the VAB, as well as the Space Shuttle Atlantis perched on the launch pad. It’s all literally out the window.

- And the pinnacle of it all – how often do you get to witness the launch of a Space Shuttle (one of the grandest spectacles known to man, so I’ve heard), and be as close to it as NASA will allow?

To say we’re lucky is, without a doubt, an understatement. But, getting spoiled like this is something I could really get used to. NASA, thanks…sincerely.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on today’s launch, you know the weather is causing some stress – only a 30% chance the weather will cooperate at all. Fortunately, everything is a “Go” so far, and hopes are high that we’ll see Atlantis launch this morning. If you’d like to help, just cross your fingers. Atlantis could use it.

As for me, I’m going to continue to soak in everything I can. If all goes well, my next entry will be sometime post-launch. I know my fingers are crossed…

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