Several times a year NASA puts on events called NASA Socials. These events are designed for regular people to experience what it’s like to actually be a part of the NASA lifestyle. In exchange for VIP access to areas normally not seen during a public tour, attendees are given pseudo press credentials and are encouraged to share what they see, hear, experience, and learn to their audience on various social media platforms. This allows more people to see what NASA is doing in space.
These NASA Socials are open to anyone (although you have to be over 18 years of age and some are in restricted buildings that require individuals to be US Citizens) who operates one or more social media accounts. Individuals simply add their name to the list and NASA picks the people who get to go. In the past I’ve entered into these and have never made the cut. So imagine my surprise when, after entering for the upcoming #DSN50 NASA Social mid-February, I received a notification saying I had been selected and was placed on the waitlist in the event a spot opened up.
See, while I think many people would jump at the opportunity to do this, the fact of the matter is it’s hard to take off with short notice from work and NASA doesn’t subsidize the costs any: participants have to pay for their own transportation to/from the airport and to/from the various locations of the NASA Social, airfare/bus fare/train fare from where they live to where the event is being held, and lodging during the event. So the fact of the matter is things in life come up and sometimes when your name is called you simply aren’t able to attend, which is why NASA selects alternates.
While I was honored to be placed on the waitlist, I wasn’t holding out hope that anything would come of this. I knew that I was getting closer and if I kept trying, eventually I’d be picked. My world completely changed, however, when on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014, I received an email from NASA telling me I was being taken off the waitlist and I now had a spot on the #DSN50 NASA Social. I had been selected to go to the #DSN50 NASA Social!
I immediately checked my work calendar and sent in a request for time off. I researched my various flight, hotel, and rental car options, so that when my vacation was approved I would immediately be able to confirm to NASA that I was attending and would be able to book my flight, hotel, and rental car. The past few days have been surreal with planning. During the event I’ll obviously be posting lots of stuff on all of the social media networks I belong to, but if you’re into more detailed information make sure to check back here. I’ll be posting several times as things are finalized as well as during the NASA Social event. If you’re interested in following along with me and the others in attendance make sure to follow the following hashtags everywhere they are supported: #DSN50 and #NASASocial. We will all be posting information, videos and pictures with those hashtags.