A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Fidget

Day 4 - NASA Tweetup

Part 1

sunny 35 °C

This was the first thing that I put on after my clothes! My official pass.... Wow.... Today was the day I was going to Kennedy Space Centre (KSC)


When we arrived at KSC, We were directed into a huge room laid out for us all. Power sources so we could tweet during the afternoon.

I sat at a table with some of my fellow housemates. We had to introduce ourselves saying our real name, Twitter handle and an interesting fact. My interesting fact was that I was the first and only female Manager of the Airfield at one of the Worlds busiest airports - London Heathrow! Hearing some people's introductions I did wonder how on earth I was there, Scientists, Mathematicians, Physics experts, Space experts and then me! - I will explain why I think I was there when I do my summary of the trip.


We were all put on coaches and taken off ready for our tour, Places visitors etc never get to see. I had rough expectations what we would see but everything we saw, heard and did totally surpassed everything I had imagined.

The first stop was at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

We were told do not look up when you first walk in, Just keep walking then look.... I felt dizzy when I did look up. It was so damn high and enormous! I have never been in such a building and had the sense of space, Not even Terminal 5 at Heathrow before it was fitted out. You could almost feel the emotions that people had left in their from when they had worked there. We were all so quiet and our heads I believe full of our own thoughts.

Some facts about the VAB taken from Wikipedia:

  • The Vehicle (originally Vertical) Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was used to assemble and house American manned launch vehicles from 1968-2011. It is the fourth largest building in the world by volume.[citation needed] The building is at Launch Complex 39 at KSC.
  • The VAB is the largest single-story building in the world, was the tallest building in Florida until 1974, and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area.
  • The VAB is 526 feet (160.3 m) tall, 716 feet (218.2 m) long and 518 feet (157.9 m) wide. It covers 8 acres (3 ha), and encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet (3,665,000 m3) of space. The building has 10,000 tons of air conditioning equipment, including 125 ventilators on the roof supported by four large air handlers (four cylindrical structures west of the building) to keep moisture under control. Air in the building can be completely replaced every hour. The interior volume of the building is so vast that it has its own weather, including "rain clouds form[ing] below the ceiling on very humid days",which the moisture reduction systems are designed to minimise.
  • There are four entries to the bays located inside the building, which are the four largest doors in the world. Each door is 456 feet (139.0 m) high and takes 45 minutes to completely open or close. The north entry that leads to the transfer aisle was widened by 40 feet (12.2 m) to allow entry of the shuttle orbiter. A central slot at the center of the north entry allowed for passage of the orbiter's vertical stabiliser. To lift the components of the Space Transportation System, the VAB housed five overhead bridge cranes, including 2 capable of lifting 325 tons, and 136 other lifting devices.
  • The American flag painted on the building was the largest in the world when added in 1976 as part of United States Bicentennial celebrations, along with the star logo of the anniversary, later replaced by the NASA insignia in 1998. It is 209 feet (63.7 m) high, and 110 feet (33.5 m) wide. Each of the stars on the flag is 6 feet (1.83 m) across, the blue field is the size of a regulation basketball court, and each of the stripes is 9 feet (2.74 m) wide, the width of a standard road lane.

I am hoping the above facts can really make you sense how big this building was.

We were told we were in for a surprise and walked round the corner and there was "Endeavour". I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. This shuttle had been into space. It still had "Space dirt" on it. Bumps, nicks and scrapes. This was the real thing! I have to admit that it just tore at my heart that I was seeing something as special as this. I just could not get enough at looking at every part of her. She was just stunning, A work of art, An engineering feat. Please humour me here as I am going to post quite a few pictures and facts of this wonderful piece of history.


  • Space Shuttle Endeavour (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-105) is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States. Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger. Endeavour first flew in May 1992 on mission STS-49 and its last mission STS-134 was in May 2011. The STS-134 mission was originally planned as the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, but with authorization of the STS-135 mission, Atlantis became the last Space Shuttle to fly.

OV designation OV-105
Country United States
Contract award July 31, 1987
Named after HMS Endeavour (1764)
Status Retired
First flight STS-49 May 7, 1992 – May 16, 1992
Last flight STS-134 May 16, 2011 – June 1, 2011
Number of missions 25
Crews 148
Time spent in space 296 days, 3 hours, 34 minutes, 2 seconds
Number of orbits 4,671
Distance travelled 122,883,151 mi (197,761,262 km)
Satellites deployed 3
Mir dockings 1
ISS dockings 12

These facts just show how exceptional she was..... and I have seen her close up. Still amazed and emotional at the thought of it, Even a week later I can remember exactly how I felt when I saw her!

On the way out of the VAB we were shown on one of the walls where everyone had written their names who had worked on the Space Shuttle Programme - What a fantastic job they all did.

Next stop on the tour was to the clock! I was going to actually touch and stand by "The Clock" that I had watched on TV so many times!

Posted by Fidget 12:34 Archived in USA Tagged nasa grail tweetup Comments (0)

Another Press Release!

I don't live in Kent though!

Please read a great article by the Huffington Post, A fantastic paper full of great articles and information.

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

Day 3

Arriving for NASATweetup at the house

sunny 35 °C

Sorry for the delay of yesterday’s blog. It was such a busy, fantastic amazing day. By the time I got to bed last night all I wanted to do was sleep!

Woke up at 06:00, Just could not sleep was so damn excited. It was even more than waiting for christmas.
Vanessa arrived at my hotel, We had Starbucks and I tried my first Apple and Cinnamon bagel filled with cream cheese. I actually though, Oh no she is weird!! It was so damn tasty and wow - I want more!


We both shared a cab to the airport to meet Erin another fellow housemate who was going to drive us to the townhouse we had rented.
Whilst waiting for Erin to arrive at baggage reclaim, Vanessa asked me to look after her stuff while she visited the ladies. On her return she said to me - That she had just left all her wordly goods woth me a complete stranger and I could have run away with all her belongings. I replied as an ex Airside Manager at Heathrow, You would have thought I would know damn well better than to look after suitcases while the owner wandered off!! We both found it vastly amusing and then I said oh well, You can now look after mine while I go!!
Erin arrived, It was obvious who she was as she was wearing her GRAIL T-Shirt. We went and got in the car. Vanessa made us laugh she went to get in the driving seat as it was a different side drive car. We both laughed but I have to admit I would have done exactly the same thing!!
Vanessa sat in the front as I thought she would navigate better than me. sadly she could not find a map in the book!


Erin drove us to Wal-Mart (A supermarket)! WOW - Poor Erin and Vanessa were both mortified when I took my camera in with me to photograph the different types of food! All ready peeled coconuts, Drinks called Fuzzy Navel!


The three of us then went to get our NASA credentials I received a tweet from Vanessa on route.Vanessa said do you think we should tell Erin she is driving on the wrong side of the road, I replied no as she may just drop us off and leave us at the side of the road with the alligators!
Were were one of the first to arrive and were given some extra goodies, I am the proud owner of a NASA Rubick cube! All my credentials tallied up so I was issued my NASA pass and a NASA goodie bag. We all put our lanyards on and it then became so real for me that this was actually happening!

On arriving at the townhouse, Vanessa managed to work out how to get into it. It was such a cheap deal for the 10 of us to share, I was a little concerned what kind of place I had secured for all of us.
On entering the house the three of us just could not believe what we saw.... WOW, What a place. I won’t go into details as I am posting all the pictures. I was going to share the master bedroom with Melissa and Kelly. It was Huge!!

The bathroom has the biggest spa bath I have ever seen, A big walk in shower, Toilet and 2 complete sinks on either side of the bathroom.


We then fell about laughing our heads off - They was NO door to the bathroom!! So it was then decided no photography to be performed from the bedroom (Jason later added, well not for publication outside the house)!! NO damn way!!


The kitchen and all other rooms were stunning!
All the other housemates arrived - Jason with boxes of Chips (Crisps in American talk), Popcorn in a huge box, 3 packs of 35 bottles of water, Red and white wine and the bottle of Bourbon he promised to bring. It was fantastic to put a face to a name. All the housemates really started to mix and get on. I now know what BIg Brother must now feel like!

Everyone are just so great, Have wonderful personalities and I am total awe of all their knowledge on space etc... I have never felt so out of my depth. Everyone one of them have been fantastic. They are explaining as we go now. They have all been studying or working with space etc for years. Where as I have only been getting involved and interested since meeting the most wonderful friend Dr Lucy Rogers. ( I have a best friend who is a rocket scientist)! She has written a book called - It’s only Rocket science.... Really shows how rocket science is but in a simplified way. A great book to start with to understand... You can see it here Sorry drifting off there!! Thanks Lucy for introducing me to this subject and for everything else too!!
Back on track now.... Vanessa and I decided to walk along the boardwalk onto the beach infront of the townhouse. We both paddled. OK, I have not seen surf waves like it... We paddled, the water was so warm.... I went in and hey, I got caught by a wave which came from no where and soaked me... Off course Vanessa found it very funny!!

Everyone started to get ready to go out for dinner to meet about another 40 people that were attending the NASATweetup at Dixies Seafood Restaurant. Putting more names to friends I had communicated with. Ordered a Margarita, It was good by my God it was salty.
I tried a strawberry margarita. So tasty and did not taste of alcohol sadly as I drunk mine quite quickly!
The food was tasty and good, I had 3 bacon wrapped shimps and 3 coconut shrimps with fries and coleslaw. So big and huge shrimps that were so delicious
Sierra and I went outside for some fresh air, On the way she decided to try and chat up the shrimp!
We then got chatting to the local Sherriff. A really friendly guy with a big gun! He put handcuffs on me!! What a laugh and I even got his business card!
Back at the house later Jason opened the Bourbon he had bought from home. Wow... So smooth especially when drunk sitting with your legs dangling in the pool.
We finally all crashed out just before 1am!
What a great load of housemates - Thanks guys!

Night Night

Posted by Fidget 20:39 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Day 2

A day of Mixed Fortunes!

sunny 34 °C

Woke up to brilliant hot sunshine, It is even better here in daylight than darkness. Slept so well for a change.
After grabbing a caramel machiato from Starbucks I realised the large shopping mail has an entrance from the hotel - Not good!
As I was sitting outside I got chatting to a lovely lady - BA cabin crew. This hotel I am staying in is where many cabin crew from the UK stay. Just like a busman's holiday. We chatted for quite a while and had a bit of a laugh swapping stories. I didn't get her name but I know she will be reading this so thank you for your company this morning.

DSC_0007.jpg DSC_0008.jpg

There are amazing little lizards walking around on the ground, Watched them in amazement, Sadly I didn't have my camera with me.
Went shopping, amazed at the prices so much cheaper than at home. There was even a store for just M and M's (M and M World) wow! got a few bits for the children. Had such fun wandering around looking at everything.


There was even a M and M car in the store!


As today is a chill day I spent the afternoon at the pool sunbathing and swimming, Total relaxation. The heat is wonderful and luckily there was a breeze as well. I know I had to have a quiet one today as from tomorrow it is going to be "Full on"

Decided after a few hours to go back into my room for a siesta, didn't want to overdo the sun on my first day.
This is when my fortunes changed!!

Wanted to go do some more shopping so got my "Pinsentry" machine (It is like a small calculator, that you place your BARCLAYS BANK card into, enter your pin and it comes up with a code that you enter then on the online banking website) I put my pin number in correctly 3 times and the message came up on the screen "your pin has been locked, please contact your bank"
So I called the customer service number for BARCLAYS BANK. After 4 different departments and £35 in phone call, I was told the only way to reset pin was to use a BARCLAYS BANK ATM machine, I explained yet again I was in Orlando and there were none. I asked if I could reset the pin at an affiliated bank. I was told no it had to be a BARCLAYS BANK ATM!! I explained that there surely must be a way so I can use my card with ALL my spending money on it. They said only other way was for them to send me a new pin number in 5 working days. Yet again I informed them I was in America. I had filled in the form before I left the country to inform them. Yet again I was told sorry nothing they could do. It had to be the worse customer service I have ever experienced!

I logged onto Twitter and put a shout out if anyone knew any BARCLAYS BANKERS (Yes I spelt that correctly)!
Many friends came back with advice and retweeted I was looking for banking advice.
One friend found the nearest Barclays bank was in Miami! He also found out that BARCLAYS BANK do not have a Twitter account but he traced the Director of Int Comms and messaged him.
I am pasting the complete conversation between us all!

This is what Brian's profile says - @brianmilligan - Associate Director of Digital Communications for a global Financial Services organisation. Views are personal and may not reflect those of my employer. (BARCLAYS BANK)

Fish - .@brianmilligan Thanks for getting back to @fidget02, she's in The States at the moment & unable to reset her PIN. Any suggestions for her?
Brian - @fidget02 we hope to launch @barclaysonline v soon. Hope this improved contact us page helps for now bit.ly/nVgyC7 cc @flyingwithfish
Fish - @brianmilligan The link you sent is where @fidget02 found contact info, racked up £35 in roaming charges ... and was told they couldn't help
Brian - @fidget02 I know this don't help but I'm not customer service. I'm group int comms. The link I sent is all I can think of
Brian - @flyingwithfish @fidget02 i found a non UK telephone number on UK website bit.ly/pGrBen. Watch out of @barclaysonline coming soon.
Me - @brianmilligan Brian, Any advice what to do in the meantime? Will you plz follow me and I will DM you to take this offline


Me - @brianmilligan @flyingwithfish Surely though being group int comms & me being where I am as the only person invited by NASA to attend #GRAIL launch from the UK and having me having press coverage & my blog being followed by so many the bad press is not good for Barclays. Sorry but you can imagine how angry I am. If you can find anyone to help me jus@jusmack.com


So here I am with BARCLAYS BANK dictating what kind of trip I am going to have. Surely in this day and age with technology where it is there must be a way. All I want to do is transfer my money from one of my BARCLAYS BANK accounts to my other and be able to use my card. There is no way I can be the only customer that this has happened to!

  • *RANT OVER**

So this evening I went for another wander around the mall (Not buying anything)! then sat outside for an hour talking to some Virgin crew. A really warm evening with a wonderful breeze.
I have arranged with Vanessa (Who has arrived from Australia for the launch) to meet me here early tomorrow morning, Then we are both going to meet Erin from her flight. Erin has hired a car and the 3 of us are all going to Cocoa Beach together, get our security passes etc from NASA.

So tomorrow is the start of the main part of the trip I have been waiting so long for. Cannot wait to meet everyone and really begin to understand so much more about NASA and Space.

Night from Bo and myself
P.S.... Bo had jet lag today so spent the day in the room!

Posted by Fidget 19:11 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Day 1

Journey to Orlando


The day begun early, 04:15am. Packed final last things (So pleased I am such an organised person)! My future son-in-law drove me to one of my former colleagues house and he then took me to Heathrow.
This was the first time I had been to Heathrow without being an Airfield Manager. Such a strange feeling! British Airways were absolutely fantastic and as always looked after me very well indeed. To be met with a tray of champagne to sip whilst unpacking your belongings is such a pleasure.

Whilst waiting for my flight I had some amazing Tweets from Family, Friends and Fellow #GRAIL atendees wishing me a safe and good flight. It put a big smile on my face. Actually shocked to be honest at how many Direct Messages etc I received.

I must say at this point “Happy Birthday Dad” Love you lots and sorry I am not there today to share your day. Glad I saw you yesterday though. (Hugs) x

So here I am sitting drinking champagne on my flight to Miami. What a fantastic way to start my actual trip. Feet up, reclined, just been given my menu to choose lunch from, On the menu today I can choose from the following starters:

  • Smoked Salmon and Trout Roulade with radish and fennel salad
  • Potted Barber’s 1833 mature cheddar with spiced apple chutney (My choice)
  • Fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette


Main Courses:

  • Slow braised British beef with rosti potatoes
  • Roast breast of chicken in a creamed tarragon sauce with garlic and sauteed potatoes (My choice)
  • Spinach tagliatelle with a mushroom truffle sauce
  • Chilled main course salad of curry scented prawns with mango and spring onion quinoa


Ok, at this point I must say I have had 3 gins already! Water from now on. (The cabin steward is absolutely wonderful and keeps checking if I need anything, mainly alcohol!)



  • Banoffee torte with caramel sauce (This has to be the only option)!
  • Clotted cream Ice cream
  • Cropwell British stilton and St-Paulin cheese with biscuits
  • A selection of fruit


  • Chocolates and coffee

Wine List!!:

  • Pouilly-Fume 2010
  • Chateau Haut-Mondain 2009
  • Hahn Winery Chardonnay 2009, Monterey. California
  • Chateau Barateau 2006, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux
  • Vina Hermosa Reserva 2004, Rioja (My choice) - Rude not to have wine with lunch!!
  • Las Olas Malbec/Bonarda Reserva 2010, Famitina Valley. Argentina
  • Champagne cocktails of either Kir Royale or Buck’s Fizz
  • Glasses of champagne - Lanson BLack Label Brut NV Champagne or Ayala Brut Majeur NV Champagne.

So now while I await lunch to be served I thought I would write my blog. As I am travelling alone I brought Bo (Boeing) my teddy bear with me. He has enjoyed the champagne already as you can see by the pics. I got a glass, He was given the bottle! - Typical.... The bear pulls!!!


Lunch is over - OMG! Wow! Amazing! Yum! Perfect beyond belief. I took pics which I will attach before posting this.

I must say the one thing I am really bugged by is the IFE (In flight entertainment) display. Firstly the buttons are hard to press, secondly the screen quality is dreadful and lastly everytime I see Bermuda on the inflight map - Damn Barry Manilow keeps coming into my head.


Feet up now for a while with my coffee and watch a couple of episodes of E.R I downloaded before I left home. This is before afternoon tea!! Oh if you get hungry or thirsty before that. Just have to walk to the galley kitchen and help yourself to drinks, snacks, sandwiches, fruit or just whatever you fancy! I can’t eat again though! Chill time, Recline seat, footstool down and blanket out just like the main beside me.

Will log back on to finish the flight blog later zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I never usually sleep on A/C but I actually just had 3 hours of sleep, Only 2 hours left of this flight. Everyone is starting to stir and blinds are starting to open. When I get to Miami I have to collect suitcase, Clear Immigration and Customs then check back in. Bag is already tagged and I have my boarding card so really straight forward.... I hope!! 3 hours until my next flight so no big hurry, At the moment we are scheduled to land on time.

Just checked the moving flight map, We are exactly over Bermuda, Is there still a triangle? About to find out! We are sitting at 38,000ft, Outside temp is -63, Time to destination 2 hours. 20 mph head wind and 832 kph ground speed for all my fellow #AvGeeks.

Afternoon tea has been served:
Salmon and cucumber sandwiches, Cheese and tomato sandwiches, Full cream tea and a cup of coffee. Def not going to eat for days!

Everyone on the GRAIL Facebook group recommended drinking plenty of water, starting a day or so earlier of arriving to keep hydrated with the extreme humidity - Thanks guys great suggestion on a 9 hour flight!!!!!!!!

Bo, The bear ended up on the flight deck having his picture taken with the captain and first officer. What a great crew, Really has to be one of the best I have flown with. Have swapped numbers!

DSC_0200.jpg DSC_0201.jpg

Got off the A/C and queued for nearly an hour for passport control, I was questioned when I got there and was asked why I was coming to the U.S. I had great pleasure in telling him that I had been invited by NASA to attend the GRAIL launch. Then proceeded to explain all about it. Ok maybe the people behind were getting a bit annoyed by this time!

Went out of the airport and Oh My God - Humidity, Well, I cannot explain it. It was nothing I had ever experienced before. I put a thin top on and still hot! Hoping I will aclimatise quickly to it. Checked in, Passed through security. No complaints, really professional and polite.

Here I am now on the 2nd leg of my journey, Miami to MCO, Short flight thank goodness as I am now shattered. Just want a shower and freshen up. We are doing a lot of weather avoidance en route to MCO. It is great though as its bumpy as anything and dropping altitude and coming back. Nothing like it! Sad or what that I enjoy it but can’t do roller coasters.

When I finally get to Orlando I decided I am just going to grab a cab to the hotel. Just want to get there and check in and kick my shoes off as I said. I have a few little bottles of gin in my bag thanks to BA so may have a night cap before settling down.

At the hotel and just going to post this with some pictures for the family etc to see my day.
Hotel is fab and room is huge and clean. Going to test the shower out and settle down to watch some TV and sleep.


Night Night from Bo and I

Posted by Fidget 18:57 Archived in USA Tagged flight british aircraft airways grail nasatweetup Comments (3)

Just over T-2 Until I fly out!

Various information gained today!

Today I started to pack - The trip is really becoming real now. Getting really excited and mind just thinking what I still have to do to make sure everything is ok. Catsitter who is moving in while I am away is visiting tomorrow - Poor guy has a list 3 pages long! JD is nearly packed to go to his sisters house and is looking forward to it, Whilst throwing in the guilt trip that I am going without him! This trip has also cost me another holiday to take him away in October though as I mentioned before!

Packing today was a nightmare I had 2 cats determined to be packed as well as you can see in the picture!!


More information about what is going to happen while we are at NASA emerged today:

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 stephanie.schierholz@nasa.gov. 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 afarmer@dncinc.com.

Previously, NASA has invited groups to attend the launch of the Juno spacecraft on its way to Jupiter and 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:


- end -

I also checked the weather while I am out there - Looking good. Appaerently when it says thunderstorms, They are in the afternoon for just short periods then dry again! This may be a welcome relief!

Predicted Forecast for my Trip

Sun, Sep 4 Few Thunderstorms. Overcast. Hot. 91 °F 75 °F 11 mph / S 74% 113 °F Minimal 63% 0.50"
Mon, Sep 5 Few Thunderstorms. Overcast. Hot. 92 °F 78 °F 11 mph / SSW 70% 112 °F Minimal 63% 1.00"
Tue, Sep 6 Few Thunderstorms. Overcast. Hot. 92 °F 78 °F 9 mph / WNW 74% 116 °F Minimal 55% 0.50"
Wed, Sep 7 A few tstorms. Overcast. Hot. 91 °F 76 °F 11 mph / NE 72% 111 °F Minimal 53% 0.50"
Thu, Sep 8 Mostly sunny. Warm. 89 °F 74 °F 10 mph / WSW 58% 97 °F High 15%
Fri, Sep 9 Mostly sunny. Warm. 91 °F 73 °F 9 mph / WNW 50% 96 °F High 10%
Sat, Sep 10 Mostly sunny. Warm. 89 °F 74 °F 5 mph / NNE 53% 94 °F High 0%
Sun, Sep 11 Partly cloudy. Warm. 90 °F 74 °F 6 mph / E 58% 97 °F High 0%
Mon, Sep 12 More sun than clouds. Warm. 90 °F 75 °F 1 mph / ENE 58% 98 °F High 15%
Tue, Sep 13 Partly cloudy. Warm. 90 °F 73 °F 5 mph / E 62% 101 °F High 10%
Wed, Sep 14 More sun than clouds. Warm. 90 °F 75 °F 11 mph / ENE 66% 103 °F High 10%
Thu, Sep 15 Tstorms late. More clouds than sun. Warm. 91 °F 76 °F 16 mph / NE 68% 105 °F Moderate 37% 0.09"

It says the temp will actually feel like between a 100 and 116F!! - A bit hot I think!!

I still think one of my highlights amongst many will be to meet Sally Ride, I just hope I get a chance to talk to her! Have been reading so much about her - Amazing lady.

Just received notification that NASA has sent out our itineraries - I keep checking my emails as can't wait to see what is planned. So I am hanging on to post this hoping it will arrive before I sleep so I can attach it.
Some of the speakers I have learnt we are going to hear from are people I never thought I would see let alone hear speak personally!
To think until I met @Drlucyrogers NASA was just something I watched on TV and looked in awe at. Lucy has opened my eyes to a totally new world and I don't think I will ever be able to repay her for this. Saying this though if it wasn't for @Dr_Black I would never have met her in the first place. Really great interesting ladies to follow on Twitter!!


Dear Justine Mackinnon,

Your arrival for the GRAIL Tweetup on Sept. 7-8 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is near, and we have some additional information and details for you and some reminders and information you've seen before. Below you'll find a detailed agenda, code of conduct reminders, driving information, the WiFi code and more. We know this is a lot of information, but please read it all carefully.

Code of Conduct:
Please keep in mind you are gaining privileged access and a unique opportunity to experience a NASA launch and activities designed just for you. We expect all participants to behave in a manner befitting the honor and with recognition of this special access. Accordingly, NASA reserves the right to revoke this privilege and confiscate your badge at any time. You are being provided an opportunity and access most NASA employees have never had.

For everyone's safety, some items are banned from the government property of Kennedy Space Center and are listed at the bottom of this email. If you become aware of a Tweetup participant who has brought any of these items on site, please notify NASA employees immediately.

You must show two government-issued identifications (one with a photograph) that match the name provided in your registration information to check in and receive your badge; you must display your Tweetup badge at all times during the events both days. Those without proper identification will not be admitted.

Below is the schedule for Sept. 7-8. Because we are in a dynamic launch environment, the schedule is subject to change. Please remain flexible.

Wednesday, Sept. 7/L-1: Registration and Tweetup Day 1

Badge check-in will begin at 7 a.m. You must check in before 9 a.m. to receive your badge and participate in events both days. Those without proper identification cannot be admitted. All registrants must be at least 18 years old. NASA's Kennedy Space Center is a government facility. You must keep the badge and photo identification with you at all times during the Tweetup. If you do not claim your badge and participate in activities Sept. 7, you will not be able to attend the launch on Sept. 8. You will need to bring your badge with you Sept. 8 to check in for transportation to the launch viewing area on the NASA Causeway.

7 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. – Registration at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (@ExploreSpaceKSC)
9 a.m. – Welcome by Trent Perrotto (@NASA) & Veronica McGregor (@NASAJPL) in the Debus Center (entry at 8:30 a.m.)
9:05 a.m. – Meet the tweeps
9:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Tour of NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including stops at the Vehicle Assembly Building and Press Site launch countdown clock, Launch Complex 17 and #GRAIL, and Launch Complex 41 from which Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity (@MarsCuriosity) will launch
1 to 3 p.m. – Break/Lunch on your own at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
3 p.m. – Jim Adams (@NASAJim), deputy director, Planetary Division, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, introduces Administrator Charles Bolden
(NASA Television begins http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-tweetup)
3:20 p.m. –MoonKAM (@GRAIL_MoonKAM) presentation from the Sally Ride Science (@SallyRideSci) team
3:40 p.m. – Sami Asmar, GRAIL deputy project scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
4 p.m. – Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4:20 p.m. – Break
4:30 p.m. – Eyes on the Solar System (@NASA_Eyes) demo with Doug Ellison (@Doug_Ellison), JPL Visualization Producer
5 p.m. – Vern Thorp, manager, NASA Programs, ULA (@ULAlaunch)
5:15 p.m. – Stu Spath, chief spacecraft engineer, Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin)
5:30 p.m. – Neil deGrasse Tyson (@NeilTyson), Frederick P. Rose director at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History (@AMNH)
6 p.m. – Group photo in the rocket garden

For the tour, you must wear long pants and closed, low-heeled shoes. Shirts must have sleeves; sleeveless tops and tank tops are not permitted. If you are not in appropriate attire, you will not get to come on the tour.

Thursday, Sept. 8/ Launch: Tweetup Day 2
6 a.m. – Arrive at the NASA parking lot to board buses. The parking lot where you will meet the buses is located on SR-405 approximately ¼ mile east of U.S. 1. If you are driving east, you will pass the Astronaut Hall of Fame (AHOF) with the shuttle model out front on your right just before arriving at the parking lot, which is on SR-405 just east of the AHOF, which you can find here: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=212229154572677793577.0004abe3a6041a5fc3a29&msa=0. An image is included at the end of the email.
6:30 a.m. – Buses depart for Causeway launch viewing
8:37:06 a.m. – First launch opportunity for GRAIL mission
9:16:12 a.m. – Second launch opportunity
Post-launch – Board buses to return

  • In the event the launch is postponed on Sept. 8, NASA will provide you another opportunity to see the launch on Sept. 9.

Your Tweetup participation includes a ticket to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex that is good for two days. Following the launch would be a great time to use the ticket. Activities taking place post-launch at the Visitor Complex are listed at http://kennedyspacecenter.com/grail-mission-schedule.aspx and include:
10:30 a.m. Astronaut Encounter Theater - Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke will discuss his experiences on the moon’s surface and conduct a book signing.
1 p.m. Astronaut Encounter Theater - Hear about the latest “other-world” discoveries from space experts astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose director at the Hayden Planetarium; and Steven W. Lee, department chair and curator of Planetary Science at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2:30 p.m. Star Trek Bridge - Star Trek’s Lieutentant Uhura, Nichelle Nichols(@realnichelle), will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first airing of the Star Trek series by signing autographs and taking photos with visitors.

On-site tech needs:
NASA Tweetup attendees should charge their electronic devices before each day's events. You may need to allow your mobile phone to roam to achieve the best cell phone coverage. We will have free power and Wi-Fi available only during the afternoon program Sept. 7 at the Debus Center. No Ethernet drops will be available, but the WiFi should provide enough coverage for everyone. Video and Skype will work, but it could be slow during heavy use.

Cameras, video cameras and tripods are allowed. However, we only have enough places for one seat for each attendee, so any equipment you bring must fit underneath your chair or on the table directly in front of you. If it will take up more space, you need to store it in your vehicle when you are not using it. If this is your first launch, we strongly suggest you put the camera down and enjoy the experience. After all, we have photographers and videographers there, too.

Beginning at 3 p.m. on Sept. 7, NASA will broadcast the Tweetup program on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-tweetup. Portions of the Tweetup may be broadcast on NASA Television, online at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. Photos may be posted online during and/or after the event at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto or http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov. Your participation in the event signals your consent to appear on air and online.

Tickets to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
You do not need to purchase an admission ticket for the Visitor Complex. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex graciously is providing you admission, including the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction, IMAX space films and exhibits and shows at the main site. You will receive your ticket upon registration and check in.

More information about the launch and mission
In preparation for your attendance at the Tweetup, you may find the following web pages useful for more information about the GRAIL mission and launch countdown.

GRAIL Mission: http://www.nasa.gov/grail and http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/grail and http://moon.mit.edu
Delta II Launch Countdown 101: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/launch/delta_II_count_101.html
GRAIL press kit: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/582116main_GRAIL_launch_press_kit.pdf
GRAIL mission fact sheet: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/578754main_grail.pdf
Video overview of GRAIL's mission: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=108291901
Launching ELV Rockets at KSC: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets

NASA Tweetup online:
The Twitter account for the Tweetup is @NASAtweetup. We are following all those who are confirmed to attend. The hashtags for the event are #NASATweetup and #GRAIL. The list of confirmed NASA Tweetup attendees is at http://twitter.com/nasatweetup/GRAIL-launch. If we are not following you or you are not on the Twitter list, please let us know. Also, don't forget to follow the mission and preparations on Twitter via @NASAJPL, @NASAKennedy and @NASA_LSP.

Things to bring (remember these items must fit at your seat or remain in your car!)
Two government-issued identifications (one with a picture) that match the name provided in your registration information (you must have your photo ID and Tweetup badge with you at all times)
Preferred tweeting device(s) and charger(s)
Paper and pen or Sharpie for autographs
Small umbrella or rain poncho
Money for food and souvenirs
Comfortable, closed-toe shoes
Insect repellant
Food, snacks, beverages, water (soft- and hard-sided coolers are okay)

Bags, purses and other items may be opened and inspected as part of security procedures. Any item you do bring must have a tag with your name and information on it.
NASA’s Safety Statement:
Please be advised that hazards are inherent in launching and launch viewing of a space shuttle mission. By accepting the invitation to view the launch or landing you do so with the understanding of the potential risk. Although NASA applies stringent range safety principles and techniques to protect the general public, workforce and property for all areas of the Kennedy Space Center during launch, in the event of an inadvertent circumstance, hazards including debris, blast and toxics could occur.

It is imperative that you stay within controlled areas with your group and strictly follow all instructions provided by NASA. Although an accident during lift-off of Delta II is highly unlikely, some safety precautions are necessary. As is the case with the launch of a space vehicle, a potential danger exists from toxic vapors contained in any cloud formed as a result of a launch mishap. In the event of an accident, all persons at NASA's Kennedy Space Center should take shelter immediately.

I hope people reading this will hopefully understand how privileged I feel to have been invited to attend this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank you NASA!
Right sleep time now (As if I can sleep after reading that)!!

Posted by Fidget 14:12 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged nasa launch grail tweetup Comments (0)

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)

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