There’s more to NASA than rocket launches

xploration Flight Test-1.
An artist’s impression of the first Orion spacecraft in orbit attached to a Delta IV Upper Stage during Exploration Flight Test-1. Image Credit: NASA

Many are excited for the test launch of the Orion spacecraft this December.  More than 3,000 people applied to be NASA guests at the Kennedy Space Center as a part of the Orion NASA Social. I wasn’t selected, but I congratulate those that were and will follow their experiences on social media.

There’s still time to apply for the NASA socials being held concurrently at the different centers around the nation. I encourage anyone to apply.  The deadline is 5 p.m. Nov. 2. Link: Good luck!

UPDATE: Registration is now closed. Good luck to all that applied!

NASA hosts these meetings of social media users this in order to further communicate with the public. It’s an unique solution of bypassing a jaded professional media that doesn’t cover space issues.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness two rocket launches as a part of a NASA social: the Juno Jupiter space probe from Cape Canaveral and the replacement Landsat from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launches were amazing.

Living in the midwest, it can be tough to make arrangements to see a rocket launch. For this reason, and because I have already observed two launches, I don’t apply to many of the launch-based NASA socials.

NASA is a big organization and has different missions at its nation-wide centers (listing), ranging from life sciences to aeronautic research. Like my headline mentions, NASA does more than just launch rockets from Florida.

My visits to the centers have been phenomenal. I enjoyed getting a behind the scenes look at the labs, workshops and training facilities. My two favorites have been the Goldstone Deep Space Network Complex, and the Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center. The Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center was a blast, too. In all cases, I enjoyed talking with the staff, scientists, and seeing demonstrations and technology up close. None of them had rocket launches on the schedule.

Some are of the opinion that once you attend an NASA social event, you should not apply again in order to increase the odds that others will be selected. I understand the sentiment. I add that if you have only witnessed a rocket launch and consider yourself done, you may be missing a bigger picture.

Keep in mind that an application doesn’t mean you will be selected. I’m pretty sure NASA attempts to diversify its audience reach, and they should. Sure, I’ve been disappointed at times but never upset or … gosh forbid … angry. I realize I am not entitled a spot and I’m always honored when selected.

Bottom line, I know that if I am not attending, I’m delighted that someone else is learning about NASA wonders.  You could be that person. For future NASA socials, keep a eye on the web page or follow along on Twitter at






Categorized as Space

By Scott Davis

Former newspaper journalist, now government webmaster. Life-long geek.