CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — United Launch Alliance is getting ready to follow in the footsteps of NASA, in that the Colorado-based company is getting set to hold its own version of the NASA “social,” which has proven so popular in recent years. Until recently, only NASA-related missions had socials. Now, space enthusiasts can carry the citizen-journalist trend into the launch of non-NASA launches, such as the scheduled March 19 launch of the Space Based Infrared System 2 (SBIRS-2) satellite atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41, located in Florida.
NASA held its first “Tweetup” in 2009. Since that term, the scope of these events has expanded and events have now been called “Socials.” Space enthusiasts have been invited to see the successful beginning of the agency’s commercial crew efforts with the launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, the liftoff of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity, and numerous other pivotal events.
“I think that the biggest thing we’ve seen in social media is the explosion in the amount of accessibility; the technology makes it possible for almost anyone to become a ‘citizen journalist,’ for want of a better term,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for Communication during a recent interview with AmericaSpace. “We feel that it is important to plug into those people in some meaningful way.”
NASA’s efforts have caught the attention of many, both inside and outside the space industry. As ULA is one of the companies that works very closely with NASA, they’ve seen how much positive attention these events can generate and have opted to follow up with Tweetups of their own. The company that launches a variety of payloads into orbit atop the Atlas V, Delta II, and Delta IV families of rockets invited social media buffs to attend this two-day event (activities will kick off on the 18th and extend through the following day with the launch of SBIRS 2) . By all accounts the response so far has been positive; this could mean that ULA Tweetups could become a regular event.