In today’s world of random contests and giveaways, I’m rarely the guy that gets picked. Caller #7 on the radio, iPad giveaways on Facebook, the business card drawing at the local restaurant. They’ve all managed to elude me…regularly. But, my luck appears to have changed recently… in a big way.
My name is Paul. I’m 37-years-old, live in Kaysville, am married to my best friend, and am a father of five kids. I wouldn’t consider myself a “space geek” necessarily, but the idea of space travel has always intrigued me. Call me crazy, but the idea of strapping humans to massive rockets, and launching them into places that are still very much unexplored, is fascinating.
On Friday, June 10, I received an email from NASA confirming that I had been selected to attend the NASA Tweetup for the launch of STS-135 to the International Space Station…Space Shuttle Atlantis…the last launch in the Space Shuttle’s storied history. The email said it all. “Congratulations, you have been selected to attend the NASA Tweetup on July 7-8 for space shuttle Atlantis’ targeted launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida!”
It’s hard to describe exactly how I felt. I originally registered knowing that my unlucky past would continue to follow me. After all, it was my first time registering for a NASA Tweetup, and nearly 5,500 people around the country registered for the same opportunity. In the end, only 150 were chosen and I was one of them. Yeah, my luck had definitely changed.
Since being selected, I’ve done research and spoken to other Utahns fortunate enough to experience previous NASA Tweetups. Apparently, I’ll have access to places and things that most people never get to experience: a VIP tour of Kennedy Space Center; an opportunity to talk with shuttle technicians, engineers, astronauts, and managers; and a chance to witness the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis from the press area, located just 3.1 miles from the launch pad. As my brother, who lived in Florida for several years and witnessed many shuttle launches, told me on the phone, “I’ll bet you feel the ground shake!” Here’s hoping so!
Part of my responsibility between now and the launch will be to tweet about my experiences. If you feel so inclined, please follow me on Twitter @GoodGadd. You can also follow the official Twitter handle @NASATweetup, or the hashtag #NASATweetup.
Clark Planetarium has been kind enough to let me blog about the experience as well, which is an absolute treat! I’ll post updates about what’s going on before, during, and after the experience as often as possible. I hope you enjoy them.
To say that I’m excited about this opportunity is an understatement. My only hope in all of this is that I am able to do the experience justice!
Until next time…