When NASA digital strategist Andres Almeida joined Twitter in 2009, one of the first accounts he followed was NASA. “I knew they were doing NASA ‘Tweetups’ (now called Socials) where members of the public could apply, go behind the scenes of a NASA facility and potentially attend a launch.
“I was selected for the STS-135 Tweetup — the final launch of the space shuttle, July 2011. The Tweetup gave me access that I never in my life thought I’d be able to experience. Being inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, where Saturn rockets were assembled, where the space shuttle was stacked and now where the SLS is going to be stacked… that for me, was incredible.
“We got to Kennedy for the launch on July 7. There were severe thunderstorms and lightning all around. The weather was not looking good for the next day.
“The next morning, we get to the press site, and the weather continues to look like it’s going to prevent the launch. There was a 30% chance. I didn’t think it was going to happen.
“And then, there was a break in the clouds. And at 11:28 am, the shuttle launches. It was such a physical, emotional experience. I remember feeling the sound waves. I was just so excited, so thrilled, so overcome by seeing all these people put in so many hours on something that was bigger than themselves, working toward making this mission a success. And that was the culmination of it: 5 million pounds of thrust lifting this vehicle 250 miles off the planet.
“I thought, ‘wow, Atlantis took off with just a 30% chance.’ So, I try to take that with me whenever I face a challenging situation. And that’s kind of why I was teetering on not applying for my first NASA internship in 2013. But I thought to myself, ‘well, that vehicle took off in not-so-ideal conditions. Things aren’t impossible.’ That’s what led me to pursue this career at NASA.”
Image Credit: NASA / Aubrey Gemignani