Norfolk

Nasa Endeavour mission to be tweeted by ex-Norfolk DJ

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL - AUGUST 08: Space Shuttle Endeavour lifts off from launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center August 8, 2007 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Image caption The Space Shuttle Endeavour will blast off on 29 April after being delayed

A former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter is about to enter the final frontier after being selected by Nasa to report on its latest space mission.

Jack Dearlove, 20, has been chosen out of 4,000 people to fly to Florida and send live updates on the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the world through Twitter.

He is one of three people from England in a team of 150 people reporting for the American space agency on 29 April.

"It's amazing, I simply can't believe it," said Mr Dearlove, from Sprowston.

The space fan, who used to present music show BBC Introducing in Norfolk and is now a second year journalism student at the University of Leeds, will join his tweeting colleagues at the official Nasa "tweetup" a few days before the rescheduled launch.

Through his own Twitter account he will provide followers of @NASA with video, text and pictures from behind the scenes at the Kennedy Space Centre and will get to tour the rocket assembly building and talk to engineers, physicians and maybe even the astronauts.

Mr Dearlove will then get to watch the Endeavour blast off from a press tent three miles from the launch pad.

'Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity'

"The previous 'tweetups' for Discovery got to meet a lot of the engineers who are involved in the shuttle and they were shown how the astronauts' pressure suits were put on," said Mr Dearlove.

Image caption Jack Dearlove has been a fan of space exploration since childhood

"I think they did briefly meet some of the astronauts but you've got to remember the 'tweetup' is happening the day before the launch, so a lot of things are subject to scheduling and whether they've got time to speak to us and the rest of the media.

"It's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity whatever I do."

Mr Dearlove has to fund the trip himself but is thrilled at being given the lucky break in Nasa's random ballot. And his family in Norfolk are delighted he can fuse together his journalism and love of space.

"Mum and dad couldn't believe it. I got the e-mail really late at night and I phoned mum up immediately and told her about it - there was a stunned silence," he said.

"The idea is to use social media to engage more people's interest in space.

"If at the end of it some of the material I've created encourages someone else to work a bit harder at their physics A-level next year and do something a bit more space-based, that's great."

The April launch will be the penultimate outing for the Space Shuttle Endeavour before it is put into retirement.

During the two-week mission the crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) to the International Space Station, which will study the origins of the universe through cosmic rays.

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