Oct. 19, 2013 — Here’s the story of how a regular ol’ Friday got flipped, turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how it became the best day ever. (Please re-read previous sentence with the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air stuck in your head. You’re welcome.)

OK, maybe not the best day ever – but it’s pretty exciting get the email that says “Congratulations! You have been selected to attend the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) launch NASA Social on Nov. 16 & 18, 2013 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.”

This is something that has been in the works for me since moving to Florida in 2011. It was back then when I first learned of NASA socials and submitted my name for one but wasn’t picked.

What does being selected mean? Here are the details. Me and 149 other people will get an inside look at NASA and watch the launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

I’ve caught two rocket launches before. The most recent one was on Aug. 7 when a military satellite was sent into orbit on a Delta IV rocket WGS-6.

So what’s the first thing I do after confirming my intent to attend? I Google search “What to know about NASA socials.”

Here’s are the top 5 things I found and hopefully it helps anyone else looking for the same answers!

1. Travelers should be flexible

One of the main things NASA made clear is that launching things into space isn’t easy and the launch schedule can change. Those that have to travel (I don’t, thank goodness) should have flexible arrangements. Don’t forget you’re heading to Florida – pack some sunscreen! It’s November, though, so the temperatures should be nice.

2. Hashtag #NASAsocial

Get ready to meet and interact with fellow space enthusiasts online and in real life from all over! Some of them will be going and some of them will live vicariously through the #NASAsocial hashtag. Take some time to peruse through old posts. Its worth it! I caught one person’s recap that mentioned Will Wheaton was at their social!

3. Countdown and blastoff

My search brought me to Rob Pegoraro, a tweetup participant in 2011 who posted about his experience with a nice description of what to expect. He gives a good reminder about something I’ve experienced covering launches from the newsroom in Central Florida – There’s a lot of waiting and anticipation as you watch the countdown clock! And when the launch finally goes off, make sure to experience it!

4. Planning

Here’s a good account of what to expect. The author gives a blow-by-blow description of his NASA social experience. I’m thinking with all the picture taking, tweeting and various other technological activities, back up chargers will be necessary!

5. NASA is on to something here.

“Formerly called NASA Tweetup, NASA Social program includes both special in-person events and social media credentials for individuals who share the news in a significant way,” a description on the organization’s website said.

Numerous articles out there describe how awesome a job the NASA social media team is doing. Check them out and you’ll likely start thinking of how you can incorporate it into whatever you do for a living!

Let me know if you’re going, too!

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