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'Tweetup' marks Space Shuttle Atlantis launch

By Ed O'Keefe

Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Monday afternoon. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty)

To the surprise of no one, Monday's Space Shuttle Atlantis launch will be Twittered.

But in a first, NASA has invited 110 Twitter-using space flight fans to visit Cape Canaveral to observe Monday's launch, attend seminars, and get within a few hundred feet of Atlantis. The group (pictured here) also met Monday with Olympic swimming champ Dara Torres.

You can track the group's tweets by visiting

"Let's light this candle! What a ride that would be," said user @TroyHadrick.

"I've left the tent and am standing at the water's edge, ready to fulfill a lifelong dream," @lexigeek said earlier this afternoon from the Cape. He said he wouldn't tweet the actual launch, because he's "Gonna lose myself in the experience."

@oliverhine noted that some participants signed a spare tire that will travel to space with the Atlantis crew. He's provided a moment-by-moment blow of the preparations leading up to Monday afternoon's launch.

This is NASA's fifth "Tweetup," but the first done in-person at Cape Canaveral. The agency announced plans for the event in October. Incidentally, NASA's twitter feed counts more than 169,000 followers. Several astronauts and other officials use the social networking service.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 16, 2009; 2:39 PM ET
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