NASA giveth and taketh away

The NASA Tweetup is less than a week away and the 150 participants got the official schedule in our inboxes today. There’s some good news and some bad news. First the bad news —  I must vent.

We’re not being allowed to view the launch from the media site, the viewing area closest to the launch pad. Instead, we’re being loaded onto buses and taken to the NASA Causeway, a land bridge some four miles from the pad. It’s an area the public can view launches from (after buying a pricy ticket from NASA for the privilege).

That means some photography gear I’ve secured to get good images was basically a waste. It also takes some the luster off of being selected for something special when you’ll be two miles farther away from the main event as working media and VIPs.

Now, the good news. Sept. 7, the day before the launch, will be a good one. From the schedule:

9:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, including stops at the Vehicle Assembly Building and Press Site launch countdown clock, Launch Complex 17 and #GRAIL, and Launch Complex 41 from which Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity (@MarsCuriosity) will launch.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson

It gets better. We’ll hear from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sally Ride, and then get to see science rock star Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. He had his own PBS series, and is a regular on MSNBC, “Real Time with Bill Mahar” on HBO and others.

After the morning launch on Thursday, we get a pass to tour the visitors center at Kennedy Space Center. Tyson will also give a presentation, Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke will be signing books, and at 2:30 that afternoon, Nichelle Nichols will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first airing of the “Star Trek” series by signing autographs and taking photos with visitors.

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols

Yes, Uhura her very own self will be there, suffering the indignities of having her photo taken with people who will, in all probability, show up in homemade Trek costumes.

I wouldn’t miss it.

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