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Spacetweetup – when dreams come true

19. September 2011
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On Sunday, October 18th 2011 ESA and DLR celebrated the “Tag der Deutschen Luft- und Raumfahrt” (TdLR).

For this Day they did invite 60 Twitter-user from all over the world to join the first ESA-DLR-Spacetweetup. And I got the chance to be one of them. And to cut it short: it became one of the most AWESOME days in my life. And #AWESOME became the days motto. But first things first: We were asked to meet at the S-Bahn-Station Köln Porz-Wahn pretty early in the morning. So around 6 I started my Volvo and drove to Cologne. Had a Camera, a Tweeting-Device, a Notebook and some weatherproof Equipment with me – not knowing what to expect.

ETA was 7:45 and when I arrived at 7:30 that was what I found:

First Contact

First Contact @ Köln Porz-Wahn

A little later 60 amazed and kinda nervous people, packed with high tech, waited for the bus. Which arrived right on time – but was a little small ;-) I guess it had about 45 seats and so it was little bit… crowed. If you know what I mean. But hey, starting a day cuddling with total strangers can be cool too ;-)

Playint Tetris on a Bus

On the DLR-Area we had a own Tent, the Tweetup-basecamp. After moving in, the official program started right away. None of us had a clue what to expect and there was a reason for that clandestine behaviour: We found a detail plan for the day with our welcome-pack and it told us that we would not only see SOFIA and the A380 or special installations by DLR and ESA. We would also meet “real Astronauts”.

But as I wrote before: first things first and so we drove up to the airfield, called “Zulu-Plattform”. There we had the chance (as the fist visitors of the day) to enter SOFIA, the flying telescope run by NASA and DLR. SOFIA is a rebuild Boing 747 with many modifications to work as flying Lab. Although its main camera has only one  (1) Pixel, the resulting photos are amazing.

Right after that we could walk over to the A380, the 4th build and stuffed with high tech equipment.

Walk to the A380

I have to admit: The A380 is HUGE. And of course impressive. But the 747 is my favorite aircraft since childhood and (maybe because) the SOFIA 747 is the 1977-Version (when I was born), my stay at the A380 was pretty short ;-) I used the extra time to explore more of the areal, but I guess many of my colleagues did stay as long as possible.

Well, back at the tent and throughout the day we heard quite a lot presentations. And while the astronauts where celebrated as superstars, I liked the Earh-Observation-Presentation most. It never fails to amaze me to see the world and all of its beauty from the Universe.

Alexander Soucek

Just sitting there, listening to Alexander and viewing his unbelievable Pictures made me feel… so small in the Universe. And helpless when he showed us the sat images they took while the oil spill at the gulf of Mexico was happening.

But of course I also enjoyed any visiting astronaut. And to be honest: I guess all of us, on a given point in time, wanted to become an astronaut. And there we where and there they where. They didn’t came in, spoke and left. They actually came back and some of them even stayed for a pretty long time. Just taking seats on our tables and talking to us, giving autograms, shooting photo. The whole situation was absolutely AWESOME.

Astronauts? REAL ASTRONAUTS? Talking with US?

I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Greg Johnson and (later) with his wife. He told about his two trips into space and I felt like a little boy, sitting there with my mouth open and my eyes not even blinking. While sharing a coke I asked him how can he life on earth after being in Space. Because I couldn’t imagine to come back to this little blue dot in Space after seeing and feeling the endlessness of the universe.

He explained to me that going into space for him felt like a dream. Like a very special vacation. Just like something you look back at and you can’t really believe that this ever happens and happens to you. As it did happen to him.

Greg Johnson

As you may imagine, the atmosphere in the tweetup-tent was so harmonic that is even hard to describe. 60 space geeks chatting with idols from there youth and today. And the most important moment was surely to meet Alexander Gerst from Germany who had just (right on this morning!) got the information that he will be the next german astronaut. And who needs TV-Shows like “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” when we actually have people like Alexander? Hey RTL, how about that?

All of us...

I have to admit that I really cut it short on this blog entry. If you want to have more details I would recommend you to read the Tweetup-Liveblog. I just might only add that I was still smiling when I came home finally and fall into bed. And that today, when I woke up, I had a moment not knowing if this was a real experience or just a dream. Because it was so fucking perfect.

And it was real. I was there. I meet all these unbelievable kind guys from Twitter, ESA, DLR and NASA. I really chatted for a longer time with Greg. And I really had a beer and some chicken with the unbelievable Beth Beck from NASA.

Oh, before I forget: I also became witness of a romantic love affair ;-)

Camilla in Love

What I took home with me is the strong feeling that the 60 of us became some kind of ambassador. There is no doubt that the Space is way more important to the human mankind than anything else. And that space has the option to union all of us on earth. As we all have one head, two legs and two arms. And when it comes to space travel or to solving our problems on earth, color, ethnics and religion will not have any role. All that counts is that we all together know what we want.

Well,

14 hours since I left.

And still I have this strong feeling that I will never be able to tell you in detail why this day was one of the best in my life. What it changed.

But I say thank you to ESA and DLR for inviting me. For making the spacetweetup happen. And I say a big big THANK YOU to everybody I meet in Cologne yesterday. There is only one way to describe this one Sunday: Guys (and Gals), you are

#AWESOME

 

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