A colleague of mine here at Northeast Delta Dental had an opportunity of a lifetime recently. NASA put out through a Twitter feed that they wanted to share the last launch of the shuttle Atlantis with 150 of their friends. With a click to apply, Mike Paulin was randomly selected from thousands of followers and invited for a front row seat to the July 8 launch scheduled at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Attendees paid their own airfare, hotel and transfers, but were treated to a first class program that included many unique activities such as a behind the scenes tour of SpaceX and its mission control center – the next generation of space travel, presentations by astronauts Mike Massimino, Doug Wheelock, Tony Antonelli, and Robert Crippen, an amazing up-close tour of the launch pad to view retraction of the service structure, and unlimited access to the visitor’s center and Apollo history museum, with the highlight being the tour of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Though weather initially posed concern that the flight might be delayed, at 1:30 am July 8, the 150 lucky attendees were summoned to the space center as they were “tanking” the rockets which meant the launch was a go. Starting at 5:00 am, engineers were on hand for a mission briefing to explain and demonstrate all the details involved, and the live launch occurred as scheduled shortly before 11:30 am. An adventure like none other, Mike witnessed the launch from the media viewing area where one is so close to the pad that he felt blasts of heated air and waves of vibrations from the thunderous roar of the take-off. Mike continues to tweet on his experience at twitter.com/N1MXJ.
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