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What a NASA rocket launch taught me

NASASocial is a great program, developed by the brilliant minds at NASA, which has opened up the doors of communcaiton to the widest audience possible by the use of social media.  NASASOCIALBasically, NASASocial recruits come from all walks of social media life.  There are Space Enthusiasts and Travel Bloggers to Amateur Photographers… even Fashion Designers and Authors of Children’s books!  It’s an eclectic group of of great social media minds!NASASocial

During NASASocial we were lucky enough to be given unprecedented access to all things NASA.DSC_0140  We had a private tour both inside and on the roof of the 160 meter Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).  We were also lucky enough to attend NASATV Press Conferences and have our questions answered by the Scientists directly involved with the experiments going into space.   SpaceX launch presserAnd, we were also kept in the loop with the status of the SpaceX Rocket that finally launched.

Scrubbed LaunchI say finally, because it was scrubbed officially three times since our first NASASocial was planned.  But, since the launch was scrubbed, I have spent a good solid month concentrating on all things NASA physically, mentally and online.

Now, here are some of the life lessons I learned from this amazing experience of a NASA rocket launch.

1.  Playing epic, loud music while driving on NASA property rocks!  Anything by John Williams just works.  VABHis music compliments the feeling you get when you see the VAB growing in size before your eyes!  And, remember, “YOU’RE AT NASA!”  Embrace it!

2.  Rockets are temperamental and not by choice.  DSC_0013This is actual rocket science – it’s not easy.  Just remember that there are a bunch of really smart people that have worked tirelessly over the months, if not years, to prepare this rocket for launch.  So, don’t feel bad if the launch is scrubbed – embrace it!  Go check out what the local surroundings have to offer!  fishingAsk around and see what the scientists do in their natural environment.  Are there any cool cafe’s or watering holes where they hang out? And, find out if there are any cool local NASA stories that can be shared – you might be surprised what you find out!

3.  A refundable plane ticket and hotel is your friend.  airplaneA scrubbed launch isn’t the end of the world – but invest in a refundable ticket anyway.  Sometimes you’ll know a day or two in advance that final adjustments are needed to be made to the rocket.  This may push the launch back a few days.

4. Spending time at NASA changes you.AtlantisEven if you are not a space nerd to begin with, you’ll never ever look at anything space related the same way ever again.  It’s hard for me to put into words.NASASOCIAL

5.  If you’re crazy space obsessed, it’s okay, because there’s probably someone at NASASocial that’s crazier into space than you.  NASASocial is like ComicCon but for Space – or as I call it, SpaceCon.  No one will judge you, just be ready to field a lot of questions!SpaceX5 launchpad

6.  NASA Scientists are people too!  Sure, they have PhD’s but most of them will have a great sense of humour.AstronautThey’re also incredibly approachable so don’t feel silly or awkward if you have a question about something they’re experimenting on – ask away, because there’s probably someone out there who wants to know the same thing.Ask Questions at NASASocial

7.  You don’t realise how big the VAB really is until you’re inside it.VAB INSIDE There’s nothing around it for miles that will give you something to reference the size, but it is absolutely massive. Vehicle Assembly Building On a clear day, you can pretty much see the VAB while flying into Orlando.  That’s how big it really is.  On top of the Vehicle Assembly Building When you’re on top of it, it’s one of the best visual experience of your life because you can see forever!  Every single launch pad is in your field of view…

8.  It’s okay to talk nerdy.NASA Bus   There will always be someone that will out talk your nerdiness!

9.  You’re apart of something BIG.Photo by Trace Choulat  First, you hear the countdown.  Then, it’s that little flash of the ignition and finally the growing light starts to move upwards.Photo by Trace Choulat  It becomes bigger and bigger and lights up the sky.  SpaceX Rocket LaunchThen, you start to hear the unmistakable sound of crackling fire.

 The rocket rises even higher.  This is a special moment.  You finally come back to reality and realise that you saw something truly amazing.

Photo by Trace Choulat  You realise that humanity is heading in an incredible direction and you were just apart of it!  You’ll become so proud of that little moment and the effort put in by the scientists that you’ll be lost for words.  It’s hard to describe what you saw to those who have never experienced a launch; it’s just something that just needs to be experienced first hand.

10. You go though a bit of post launch depression.  There is so much to take in.  DSC_0174You’ve invested a redliclous amount of time with NASA, so when the rocket finally goes off, it’s a bitter-sweet moment that takes a bit of time to cope with.SpaceX5  But, don’t worry, it’s okay.  Everyone who’s attended a NASASocial launch goes though the same thing. And, looking back, you now have a incredible group of new friends who experienced the same thing you did.

I leave you with a video produced by one of the NASASocial attendees.  Here, he captures the incredible moments we experienced of all things space: 

taraustralis View All

A girl gone walkabout in the great big world!

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