Launch Drunk: Final Thoughts on the Shuttle Program

(For more photos, click for my albums from pre-launch and Launch day)

I've been in a state of writer's block ever since I saw Atlantis break away for the clouds on Friday morning. Sure, I've been updating Twitter and Google+ like a madman, but I needed some time to write a long form blog post. As a fellow NASA Tweetup attendee taught me, I was "launch drunk!"

Now that I've some rest, I can better reflect on the impact that NASA and the shuttle program has had on my life.

My earliest memory is the aftermath of the Challenger incident. As a six year old, I couldn't put this into the proper historical perspective. However, there was a huge push for space and technology news within my school as well as my favorite media of the time - Highlights for Children and 3-2-1 Contact. I manned my own personal missions with my toy spacecraft, hoping that my impromptu Lego modular design would help against the inevitable alien encounter.

As a preteen, I took an astronomy class at the local community college, where we learned about planetary orbits, plotted constellations, and, of course, talked about the space shuttle. We even took a trip to the National Air and Space museum in DC, which was one of the first times I had been to a museum outside of the New York metro area. As a sign of the times, I also remember the bus stopping at a Dairy Queen on the way back, and playing the Simpsons arcade game with tree other friends as long as we could.

In a few years, I began to read the paper and watch the news on a daily basis. I always made sure to tune in for shuttle launches. There was no NASA TV or YouTube - the only way to experience NASA missions was to tune in live or for a recap. I always felt butterflies watching the coverage.

I felt those same butterflies during my first live launch last Friday, the last one ever.

NASA has big things on the horizon - continued research on the International Space Station, getting humans to Mars, and exploring asteroids - and my hope is that future generations are inspired by this work. I know I was.

NASA Tweetup STS-135: Day 1

As I blogged earlier, I've been lucky enough to be selected by NASA to participate in a two day meeting of 150 of NASA's twitter followers, celebrating the final space shuttle launch. Atlantis is scheduled to depart at 11:20am on Friday July 8th.

For realtime updates, follow me on Twitter at @ShareefJackson or on my Google Plus account at

I am crashing after a fabulous day at the Kennedy Space Center press site.  I've participated in an exclusive look within the NASA complex headed by people that actually make things tick. 

The full photo album is located on my Google Plus account,( see my previous blog post for details on Google Plus and why I won't be heading to Facebok much anymore) I'll be sharing four key shots below.

Check out our agenda below.  It's pretty hectic, but filled with lots of interaction with scientists, astronauts, and other NASA employees. And yes, I need to be there around 5am tomorrow. I'm in Orlando, which without traffic is just over an hour travel time.  With the traffic of the last shuttle launch EVER though, I'm guessing at least two to three hours.


Astronaut Doug Wheelock was kind enough to pose with me in front of space shuttle Atlantis.  This is the closest that non-NASA workers are allowed to the shuttle.  We will experience the actual launch from much farther away - about 3 miles from the launch pad.



For a while, it began raining.  Actually, it became POURING.  Like, Biblically. Luckily it cleared up later, and it gives me hope that there will be no rain tomorrow during the launch attempt.  Here is a shot I took from the press tent of the Vehicle Assembly Building covered in rain.



Speaking of the Vehicle ASsembly Building, it is HUGE.  I can see why Michael Bay used it to film from scenes from Transformers - it's the only indoor place that can fit a robot, in my humble opinion. I had to lay on my back to capture the amazing height of this structure.


NASA's Final Shuttle Launch - I'll be there!

last one by shlomi yoav (shlomi_y) on
last one by shlomi yoav


Happy 4th of July to all of my American viewers!

On July 8th, at approximately 11:40am, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will lift off for its final mission, and I'll be right there!  I've been invited by NASA to participate in a NASA Tweetup for 150 of its twitter followers.  I've previously blogged about my experience with the tweetup and the previous launch, along with the accompanying media coverage, but I missed the actual liftoff of the shuttle due to the launch being moved at the last minute for safety concerns.  Of course, this can happen again for this launch, but I have my fingers crossed!

The community of people that support NASA initiatives is very impressive. We are connected on various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and the information flows freely.  There are people that clearly know more than me, but not once have I felt talked down to. It's truly an example of how technology can help to bring like-minded people together.

You can view my press release by clicking here.

NASA Tweetup attendees are traveling from across the U.S. and globe to attend this historic event. A list of registered Twitter attendees can be found on the NASA Tweetup Twitter account:

Information about the NASA Tweetup can be viewed at