After a lifetime of gazing at the stars and years of fascination with all things space, Mount Shasta High School graduate Danielle Signor will be just three miles away from the final liftoff of space shuttle Discovery.
Signor was recently selected as one of 150 lucky Twitter users from around the world who will cover the launch at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center up close and personal on Monday, Nov. 1.
NASA does quite a bit of outreach with social media, Signor explained. One such way is through events called “Tweetups,” where participants are invited by NASA to special events and encouraged to share their experience with others via the social networking service Twitter.
“It was crazy odds... the last person who thought they’d get in is me,” laughed Signor, who was one of 2,700 people who eagerly registered for the Tweetup.
The two day event will begin on Sunday with a behind-the-scenes tour of Kennedy Space Center. Signor will meet with shuttle technicians, managers, engineers and astronauts.
She’ll also get a demonstration of Robonaut, a human-like robot similar to the one to be delivered to the space station, and she’ll be just 600 yards from the launch pad when NASA rolls back the Rotating Service Structure that surrounds the space shuttle stack in preparation for flight.
On Monday, Nov. 1, at 4:40 p.m. eastern daylight time, Signor will be covering the actual launch from Kennedy’s press site, which is a mere three miles away – “much closer than the public gets,” Signor said with a big smile.
The entire time, she’ll be tweeting photos, observations and impressions through her iPod Touch and laptop computer.
“I’ll basically be giving a blow-by-blow,” she said.
Signor has always been interested in space. The fascination began when she was about five years old, she said. Growing up, she wanted to be an astronaut.
In high school, Signor attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
Today, Signor provides web design services to many local businesses and is the owner of her own company, Danielle Signor Digital Studio.
She’s also a space enthusiast. She runs her own space flight blog and is a member of the Space Tweep Society, which connects her to NASA contractors and other educated space enthusiasts, she said.
Being present at this particular launch is especially exciting, because Discovery is Signor’s favorite shuttle, and this will be its last flight.
According to NASA’s website, Discovery has flown to space more than any other craft.
Since its first flight in 1984, Discovery has spent 352 days in orbit and has traveled almost 143 million miles. It launched the Hubble telescope and twice returned America to space after the Challenger and Colombia tragedies.
“I feel really, really lucky. This represents a lifelong dream... It’s going to be a blast,” said Signor.
To follow Signor on her adventure, you can follow her on Twitter. Her username is “silverrockets.” You can also follow along on her blog, silver-rockets.com, which celebrates “the dreams and realities of spaceflight and the great beyond.”