Well, you didn’t ever think that I would miss the final shuttle launch did you? The pull was too strong, I raided my piggy banks, took a deep breath and booked myself a London – Orlando plane ticket, and here I am.
I can’t tell you how great it feels to be back and I’m so looking forward to seeing the incredible people that I met over my adventure last time. In case you don’t know the story, here’s Space Nomad in a couple of sentences.
I got picked for NASA Tweet-up for STS-133, the final launch of space shuttle Discovery. I packed for ten days, but I stayed for four and a half months. Discovery was delayed on multiple occasions and I used that as an excuse to travel across the states, exploring NASA and commercial space hubs and being privileged to receive incredible kindness from the space community.
There are so many fascinating, wonderful people who helped me on my journey – Chris Schaffer, Jen Scheer,Matt Sachtler, Jeff Wallace, Rebecca Cutri-Kohart, Cariann Higginbotham, Stephanie Schierholz, Michael Grabois, John McBrine to name just a handful. The NASA Tweet-Up participants became a family to me. I’m so pleased that I’ll be able to reconnect with some of them and be here for this emotional end to the shuttle programme.
This is not just about rockets, it’s not just about space, or money or anything. This is a real passion for a lot of people. The end of the shuttle programme will see hundreds of people lose their jobs and this will significantly affect the space coast. Being around people who work with NASA, who’ve worked on the programme, hands-on with the orbiters has given me such a special insight. They really are like a family, this is not just the end of a project for them. This is the end of an era.
So I’m back. I’m here to witness the final launch. STS-135, space shuttle Atlantis bringing the programme to a close. There will be joyful reunions, parties, excitement, tension, an overload of the senses at launch, and then a gentle realisation that it will never be repeated. I’m going to do my best to keep you updated, so follow me and my adventure as the Space Nomad rides again. I’m on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and I’ll be doing audio interviews on Audioboo too. Feel free to use the #spacenomad hashtag and join the adventure.