A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

Strange way of finding out I am in the local paper!

An article from The Haylingislander

I received a tweet tonight from @NebulousBoomer who lives in Kentucky, U.S.A, He informed me that he had found the following article about me!
So strange these days that someone across the pond sees something before I knew about it and I live on the Island!
Thank you Michael for letting me know. Looking forward to you buying the first round at Dixies!


Published on Tuesday 30 August 2011 12:58

TWITTER has won a Hayling Island resident the chance to watch the launch of a Nasa spacecraft.

Businesswoman Justine Mackinnon was one of 150 people selected to attend a ‘Tweetup’ in the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, USA.

She will witness the launch of two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (Grail) spacecraft aboard Delta II rockets headed for the moon during a two-day trip on September 7 and 8.

At the event Justine and the other 149 followers of Nasa on Twitter will interact with engineers and scientists from Grail and other upcoming Nasa missions and tour the Kennedy Space Center’s visitor complex.

Justine said: ‘Being selected for the Nasa Tweetup is an incredible honour especially since this looks like the last launch from this location.

‘Being part of the event means I’ll meet people who make the space program successful and interact with fellow attendees who share my interest in Nasa.

‘Through Twitter, I’ll be sharing the incredible experience with my followers by composing informative tweets no longer than 140 characters and posting photos and videos.’

The two Grail spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field in the hope of answering questions about how Earth formed.

Posted by Fidget 12:09 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged grail tweetup haylingislander Comments (0)

Great Explanation of #GRAIL Mission

Article from Washington Post - By Brian Palmer, Published: August 22

Many space enthusiasts are mourning the end of the shuttle program, but NASA is still going to the moon. The space agency plans to launch two unmanned probes on Sept. 8 that will orbit our nearest celestial neighbor simultaneously. The mission is intended to help answer questions about how the moon and the Earth came into being, the temperature conditions at various points in the history of the solar system, and the composition of the moon, from crust to core. (I’m trying hard not to mention green cheese right now. Shoot. I just did it.)

Like much of NASA’s work, the GRAIL mission — named for the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory probes — is all about gravity. Here’s how it’s supposed to work: The spacecraft will leave Earth together on a 125-foot-tall Delta 2 rocket. Once they’re carried away from the pull of Earth, the two GRAILs will be released. The craft each weigh about 500 pounds, and NASA describes them as about the size of a washing machine.

The GRAIL twins will take the long way to the moon — about three or four months, compared with the four days it took Neil Armstrong et al. in 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission. The longer, more circuitous route saves energy and also enables the GRAIL craft to maintain a reasonably constant speed by passing through a so-called Lagrangian point, where the gravitational forces of the Earth and moon interact in a way that eases the craft’s transition between them.

GRAIL A will enter lunar orbit on New Year’s Eve, with GRAIL B doing the same on New Year’s Day. Over two months, the spacecraft will shift from an initial 11.5-hour elliptical orbit to a two-hour orbit that is nearly circular, with GRAIL B constantly chasing GRAIL A around the moon.

After that, the real science will begin. The key to the mission is maintaining the distance between the two spacecraft. As GRAIL A and B whip around the moon over the following 82 days, small variations in the moon’s gravitational field will change the speed of each craft, causing them to drift slightly closer together or farther apart.

The slight changes in the moon’s gravity at different points indicate what’s going on inside the moon itself.

You may remember your high school physics professor telling you over and over that, for purposes of simplicity, you could ignore certain complicated aspects of the real world. Friction, for example, was regularly dropped, even though it’s crucial to nearly every aspect of physics. Another small fib in your early calculations was treating objects as if their mass was just a single point located at the object’s geometric center. That would work for many calculations involving perfect spheres — there’s a reason that teachers often refer to billiard balls when talking about Newton’s laws — but the moon isn’t a perfect sphere, and its mass isn’t evenly distributed around its geometric center.

These eccentricities inside and on the surface of the moon mean that the gravitational field — that is, the attractive forces caused by the mass of the rock itself — isn’t spherical. It’s rather lumpy, in fact

Posted by Fidget 15:06 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

T-8 !!

Week tomorrow I leave for my trip


I just cannot believe how slowly the time has passed, Though I know next week is going to be a rather busy one.
Firstly I have Jordan's birthday, So concentrating on that for Tuesday. Then its all go for getting ready to leave.

The list of electronics suggested to take is long and I am wondering how to pack it all! New suitcase needed. Luckily I have a decent large bag for hand luggage so my gadgets can all go in there (Mackbook, IPad, DSLR, IPhone etc... )

Passport and birth certificate ready to go after a panic this week of not being able to locate my birth certificate. Thanks to the Central Register Office, I applied for a new one and had it within 2 days. A big thank you to them. Without that I wouldn't have been going to NASA!! So one less thing to worry about.

Everything at home is sorted out. I have someone coming to stay in my home to look after the boys (Reggie and Concrete - My cats)! Jordan is really looking forward to going to stay with his sister, Though not looking forward to going back to school! He also still thinks it is unfair he cannot come too. I have had to promise to take him away in October to make up for it. The other children then stated favouritism so they need a holiday too!! I explained they made the choice to leave home and live with their partners!!

Tonight I was going to be making my final list of things to take with me but I am now working on Hurricane Irene with Humanity Road and SBTF. These are organisations I help when somewhere in the world has a crisis. Monitoring the situation and reporting on them, Getting essential information to people, Advising of safe locations, Open hospitals etc... A worthwhile cause and a dedicated team of people who give up much of their time. [b](www.humanityroad.com) I have helped with the Chicago Blizzards, Japan and Libya. I am fortunate to be able to give help from my home to anywhere in the world after great training from the team.

@gabrielleNYC and various others from the GRAIL group have been telling me about the HUGE Mozzies!!! I spent this afternoon looking for the best spray as I do not want to get eaten alive! Apparently "Boots own brand of extra strong jungle formula" works the best but I am open to any other suggestions! I have seen images of the bites they leave and I really don't want any!

Meanwhile while I am getting ready, Everyone at NASA is getting organised.

GRAIL Payload Fairing Installation Photos

Click for photos

We have also been told that The 1st U.S. woman in space- Astronaut Dr. Sally Ride will also be in attendance at the #GRAIL #NASATweetup on 9/8 with @RealNichelle! What an amazing experience to meet Sally as well
Click for Sally's Bio.

I am looking forward to being in the same time zone of most attendees as it takes me about half an hour to catch up on our Facebook page at what has been said and organised while I have been sleeping. Have made many friends already and not even met them yet.

Right back to work on Hurricane Irene - Looks like a long night ahead. Just hope everyone across the pond are ok. My thoughts are with you.

Posted by Fidget 12:11 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

NASA Press Release!

It is about me!!

Well this is the press release I have been given to send out to newspapers etc if I want to!
500 hours until GRAIL launches!
Not long now, Everyday new things happen

Today we worked out who is sleeping where and with who in the townhouse we are all sharing!
I am sleeping with Melissa in the King Size room - Whheeyyy.
The reason we are together is we both snore lol

As for the schedule I posted yesterday, Friday 9th now looks like all the housemates are going to Universal studios! So not a relaxing day. Will be fun though.
Be our last trip out all together. Think a few drinks will be consumed that night too

CONTACT: Justine Mackinnon
Twitter: fidget02

Hayling Island, Hampshire. U.K Resident is One of 150 Selected to Attend NASA Tweetup for Launch of Twin Lunar-Bound GRAIL Spacecraft Sept. 7 - 8, 2011

NASA Twitter Followers Will Tweet from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Hayling Island (20th August 2011) - NASA will bring together 150 Twitter followers to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for a two-day Tweetup, Sept. 7 - 8, 2011, for the launch of twin lunar-bound Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.Hayling Island resident Justine Mackinnon has been selected as one of 150 @NASA Twitter followers to attend and Tweet the event. The launch window opens at 8:37 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 8. The two GRAIL spacecraft will measure the moon’s gravity field from its crust to core and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

As a NASA Tweetup attendee, Justine and the other 149 Twitter users will interact with engineers and scientists from GRAIL and other upcoming NASA missions as well as tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. If all goes as scheduled, participants will view the spacecraft launch. In addition, the Tweetup will allow participants to meet other tweeps and members of NASA’s social media team. Attendees were selected through a lottery system in which more than 1825 @NASA Twitter followers registered.

“Selected for the NASA Tweetup is an incredible honor especially since this looks like the last launch from this location. Justine said, Being part of the NASA Tweetup means I’ll meet people who make the space program successful and interact with fellow Tweetup attendees who share my interest in NASA. Through Twitter, I’ll be sharing the incredible experience with my followers by composing informative Tweets no longer than 140-characters and posting photos and videos.”  

Justine was formally Duty Manager Airside at London Heathrow Airport. She has just left BAA to start her own consultancy business (jus@jusmack.com) she is an accomplished “AvGeek and Twitterer. Follow her Tweets at twitter.com/fidget02 

NASA Tweetup participants are traveling from across the United States and the globe to attend. Justine is the only person to attend from the U.K and only one of 2 from Eurpoe View the list of list of registered attendees on the NASA Tweetup Twitter account: http://twitter.com/NASATweetup/grail-launch 

NASA held its first Tweetup on Jan. 21, 2009, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA’s Tweetup Twitter account is http://twitter.com/NASATweetup and participants will be using #NASATweetup in their updates while tweeting. Information about NASA Tweetup can be viewed on http://www.nasa.gov/tweetup .

About the GRAIL Mission
The two GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field from crust to core. The mission will answer longstanding questions about Earth’s moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

GRAIL's lift off is the third of four space missions launching this year under the management of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Aquarius launched June 10 to study ocean salinity; Juno will launched Aug. 5 to study the origins and interior of Jupiter; and the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover heads to the Red Planet no earlier than Nov. 25. Visit http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/grail for additional information about GRAIL.

Posted by Fidget 13:02 Comments (0)


What it is all about

Two small spacecraft flew to the Kennedy Space Center in the belly of an Air Force cargo plane Friday, ready to start final preparations for launch to the moon in September.

Technicians prepare to hoist the two GRAIL spacecraft out of a vacuum chamber in April. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is scheduled to blast off Sept. 8 on a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

GRAIL's two nearly identical spacecraft flew on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane from Lockheed Martin Corp. in Denver to Kennedy Space Center's space shuttle landing strip Friday, then the probes were moved to a nearby clean room facility.

Workers will complete assembly of the GRAIL probes, fuel the spacecraft and place the satellites on top of the Delta 2 launch vehicle over the next three months.

Each GRAIL spacecraft is about the size of a washing machine and will weigh about 440 pounds at liftoff.

The mission's Delta 2 rocket is fully stacked on Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will fly in the 7920-Heavy configuration with nine 46-inch-diameter solid rocket boosters.

Liftoff is expected Sept. 8 at 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT). After receiving a boost into space, the GRAIL spacecraft will be on a low-energy trajectory to the L1 Lagrange point, the location in deep space where gravity from the sun and Earth exert equal influence.

The Delta 2 rocket's first stage and solid rocket boosters were stacked on the launch pad in April.. Credit: NASA/KSC

The probes will approach the moon under the south pole, each executing a one-hour rocket burn to enter lunar orbit Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. More engine firings will place the spacecraft in a 30-mile-high orbit as the satellites drift more than 100 miles apart during a three-month science mission.

GRAIL's mission design is based on the similar GRACE project, which continues flying two satellites in formation in Earth orbit to precisely measure gravity.

A Ka-band ranging system will keep track of the distance between the GRAIL satellites, detecting slight changes in their orbits to study variations in the lunar gravity field.

GRAIL's discoveries will help researchers determine the structure of the lunar interior and advance the understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon, according to scientists. GRAIL will also search for evidence of a solid core inside the moon's liquid core.

Data from the moon will give scientists a clearer picture of how Earth and other rocky planets formed in the early solar system, according to NASA.

Led by principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA says the GRAIL mission will improve knowledge of the moon's near-side gravity by 100 times and of far-side gravity by 1,000 times.

GRAIL also carries a camera suite called MoonKAM to give middle school students the chance to take their own pictures of the moon from lunar orbit.

Once its data-collecting phase is complete in the summer of 2012, NASA will command the GRAIL probes to impact the moon.

Posted by Fidget 15:21 Comments (0)

1st Draft of My Itinerary

Gaps will be filled as I arrange things.

Last night I had a change in plans, I decided that I would go back to Orlando after NASA instead of Hollywood Beach. While I am in FLorida I want to do a few things I cannot do at home.
I can sit on the beach at home so thought what have I always wanted to do - Swim with dolphins. So it is all arranged that is what I am going to do!!
I have booked a great hotel with fab reviews that also has a decent pool for me to laze at when I can!
The trip seems to be coming together.

The other attendees and myself are getting to know each other via our Facebook Group. We are going to have some amount of fun once all together. What a great bunch of people. They are all from various backgrounds and different experts in their own field!

So anyway this is what I have planned and booked so far, I will do a final version before I depart:

4th September

Flight number BA0207
From Heathrow (London) Terminal 5
To Miami International (FL)
Depart 4 Sep 2011 11:05
Arrive 4 Sep 2011 15:15

Connect then on:

American Airlines 1302 MIAMI INTERNTNL SUN 04SEP

Taxi to hotel:

Hotel Name:
The Florida Hotel & Conference Center, Orlando
Arrival Date:
04 September 2011
No. Nights:

5th September:

Shopping in the Mall and sit by the pool.

Dinner at night with Shelley from NASA

6th September:

Collected from hotel by Erin (Another NASA attendee) driven to Cocoa Beach Townhouse

(Unit 101 (The Town House) at 3800 Ocean Beach Blvd. , Cocoa Beach , FL 32931)

NASA between 15:00-17:00 to collect out I.D's

19:00 Dinner at Dixies Seafood restaurant with 30 other NASA attendees

7th September:

NASA from 08:00 until 17:00 (Can't wait to see what is planned by NASA)!

Provisionally housemates are going to "The Irish Bar" in evening! NO idea what else is planned as yet!

8th September:

05:30 NASA to prepare for launch at 08:37. Watch launch then leave NASA in afternoon
GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory)
Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA, Planet Earth.
Time: Thursday, 08 September 2011 05:30


The locals lay on an "Endless BBQ" for attendees of the Tweetups!

#endlessBBQ v4.0 for theGRAIL launch is going to happen. The event will be held at the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company- we get to use their new deck , and we look forward to seeing all of you GRAIL #NASATweetup-ers

9th September: No idea (Hopefully a lazy day by the pool)!! - Nope now looks like the housemates are going to Universal OMG!!!

10th September: Lift to hotel on International Drive from one of the attendees

Hotel Radisson Hotel Orlando-International Drive
Address 8444 International Drive
Orlando (Florida), FL 32819
United States of America

11th September:

Discovery Cove for the day to swim with Dolphins - A couple of others are coming as well with me

12th September:


13th September:

Shopping in Malls

14th September:

Pack and Taxi to airport

American Airlines 2047 ORLANDO INTL WED 14SEP

Connecting onto the below flight

Flight number BA0208
From Miami International (FL)
To Heathrow (London)
Depart 14 Sep 2011 20:40
Arrive 15 Sep 2011 10:00

15th September:

Arrive LHR @ 10:00

Home to Hayling Island

Posted by Fidget 10:53 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Preparation for my trip.

So much to be done!

I didn't realise there was so much to do to plan my trip.

Sort travel
Organise transport
Book hotels
Decide where I want to go
Look at the internet to see what I want to do
Book and arrange the shared Condo for 10 of us for the NASA part of the trip!
Then there is everything to work out while I am away.
Jordan to Mava's
Someone to come stay with the cats
How best to keep in communication with everyone

That is just to name a few things!

Hence why I decided to set this travel blog up. This way friends and family can see where I am and what I am doing day by day.
My route is mapped out on the map, I will just need to add dates etc.

Day before yesterday we finalised the condo on Cocoa Beach - 10 of us are sharing it. This is where I will be based for 4 nights whilst I am at Kennedy Space Centre (KSC). The people sharing are Sabrina, Jason, Erin, Chris, Vanessa, Matt, Sierra, Garrett, Melissa and myself! Jason has "Googled" it even found there is an Irish pub round the corner.... In his words "within stumbling reach"! We have given our house a name like some of the other shared houses has done..... Our house is called "The Launchpad".

Michael another Tweeter, has suggested we all make tin foil hats and wear them out to dinner the first night and see who has made the best one.... Oh My God.... I thought I was away from the tin foil brigade! I told Samantha about it today over coffee and she could not stop laughing!

Another plan that has been made is we are all going for dinner to "Dixie's Seafood Restaurant" on the night of the 6th. Michael is buying the cocktails. There are even nominated drivers for the night! Times like this I am alighted that I am not hiring a car.

Yesterday I booked my hotel for the first 2 nights. It is right beside the shopping malls... Sounds like heaven. This will be the only time I will see the BIG, LARGE, WONDERFUL Shops!! It looks amazing. I will post pictures once I am there. I will also add a link to their website so you get a good insight.

Posted by Fidget 06:18 Comments (2)

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