The first european SpaceTweetup
Today we sent off the last invitation letters for the first european SpaceTweetup, jointly organised by DLR and ESA. I cannot make clear enough how happy I am to organise and host this event together with our friends from ESA's communication department. But before I give you a little bit of background information on how the event came about, let me first answer the often heard question:
Why a SpaceTweetup?
First: Of course it's because NASA already does it and because our american colleagues inspired us, but it's even more because NASA is heading in the right direction. Today, for Science Communication and Public Relations, Social Media has become as important as traditional web and print publishing, TV/Radio broadcasting (and media relations respectively). It helps getting our message across to a wide audience, and occasionally having a few of our Social media followers (as many as capacities allow actually) on site, exclusively showing them the useful things we do with european tax money is even better. It's btw the same we do (and continue to do) with the media for a long, long time. But Social media communication is not just about multiplication, it's also about sharing. Hence we encourage our Tweetup particpants to share what they see (and feel) via social networks: Hands-on Space Science & research for the benefit (and the curiousity) of people young and old - to foster knowledge, education, as they are they key to it all. That's it for the moment regarding the "Why?" - in just a few words.
A SpaceTweetup by NASA - in this case on occassion of the Juno Launch at NASA KSC. Image credit: NASA, CC-BY-NC.
Back to the organisation of the first european SpaceTweetup:
Since quite some years we have an excellent cooperation regarding the German Aerospace Day ("Tag der Luft- und Raumfahrt") not just because ESA's European Astronaut Centre is located on the DLR site in Cologne, but also because ESA and DLR (just as ESA and other national Space Agencies such as CNES or ASI) are generally closely connected, thus also in terms of communication activities. Since the German Aerospace Day is our major general public event with everything from european (and other nation's) astronauts on stage, (space) research aircraft (SOFIA!), hands-on science and much more it should have been obvious to me that this event is literally made for the realisation of our idea of a first european SpaceTweetup. We had planned one already in Summer 2010 for the launch of one of our EO satellites (TanDEM-X) at DLR GSOC, but then scrubbed it due to the really uncomfortable night-launch time (4:14 CEST). But it was not until approx. two months ago we were having an internal meeting and I figured doing it on German Aerospace Day would be a good idea. Two straightforward telecons later our colleagues from ESA were on board and Social Media teams of DLR and ESA were already in the middle of planning. A first draft announcement and programme was quickly conceived, easily approved and here were are today:
- 418 registrations from 29 countries
- 60 participants from 14 countries selected, among them not just european countries but also the USA and Canada
- an excellent programme with lots of (Twitter-)Astros and well-known NASA Social Media colleagues attending, Tours of DLR's research institutes, EAC, SOFIA
- a Facebook group dedicated to SpaceTweetups (founded by SpaceTweeps!)
and so much more - and the event hasn't even started yet.
Already now I wish to express my sincere thanks to all those who contribute in organising, hosting and visiting this hopefully fascinating event. Special thanks also to NASA's Office of Communications for inspiring and supporting us.
Update, 22 August: 60 Participants from 12 countries confirmed their attendance. We will host people from Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Netherlands, Spain and the U.S.
Update, 13 September: Because of a cancellation we have a new swiss participant. So Switzerland is country no. 13 represented at the SpaceTweetup.