Here's what happened: The NASA Administrator invited the GW Space Policy Institute students on a VIP tour of the Feb. 7th Shuttle launch. Each of the students gets to bring a 'plus-one' with them, and my co-worker Tommy, who is a current SPI student, offered to sign me up as his plus-one. That means I'd get to go on a VIP tour of the facilities, see the shuttle up close, watch the launch from a special location, and all that fun stuff. Also, since there's a big group going, I don't really have to organize anything - just get myself to Florida (and roundtrip tickets to Orlando were $150!) and then just stick with the group. There are only five shuttle launches left, including this one, so who knows if this opportunity would come up again?
I convinced Jeff to come too - he won't go on the VIP tour of NASA, but he will get to hang out on Cocoa Beach all weekend, so it wasn't too hard to convince him.