Stephanie L. Schierholz
WASHINGTON -- The final launch of the space shuttle program is scheduled for 11:26 a.m. EDT on July 8, and NASA has invited 150 followers of the agency's Twitter account to be there. People selected will have a behind-the-scenes perspective from the press site at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA randomly selected the participants from more than 5,500 online registrants during a 24-hour opportunity on June 1-2. Attendees represent 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K.
Tweetup participants are coming from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
They will share their experiences with their more than 1.5 million combined followers through the social networking site Twitter. Beginning at 10:30 a.m. on July 7, NASA will broadcast a portion of the Tweetup when participants get to talk with Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, astronaut Mike Massimino and Angie Brewer, space shuttle Atlantis' flow director at Kennedy.
Joining them will be a special celebrity guest, Sesame Street's Elmo. Sesame Street will be at Kennedy to film Elmo, as he learns about space exploration at NASA.
To watch the broadcast, visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasatelevision.
Participants also will tour Kennedy; make an up close visit to the launch pad, and wave at Atlantis' crew members on their drive to the launch pad. The Tweetup culminates with the shuttle's lift off.
Reporters credentialed to cover the launch also may cover the NASA Tweetup at Kennedy's press site. Reporters interested in interviewing Tweetup attendees in advance should contact Stephanie Schierholz at 202-358-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is the fifth time NASA has invited Twitter followers to experience a space shuttle launch. Previously, groups attended lift offs of Atlantis' STS-129 and STS-132 missions, Discovery's STS-133 mission, and Endeavour's STS-134 mission.
To follow the Tweetup participants on Twitter, as they experience the prelaunch events and shuttle liftoff, follow the #NASATweetup hashtag and the list of attendees at http://twitter.com/nasatweetup/sts-135-launch.
All four of Atlantis' crew members are posting updates to Twitter. You can follow Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim at http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Ferg , http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Doug , http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Sandy , and http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Rex.
To connect with NASA on Twitter and other social networking sites, visit http://www.nasa.gov/connect.
For more information about space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.
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