NASA astronaut hopes to Twitter from space

Shuttle mission specialist tweets about training and wants to blog from onboard Atlantis.

A NASA astronaut is hoping to Twitter from space when he flies on the space shuttle Atlantis next month on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

Mission specialist Mike Massimino has been using Twitter for a little more than a week now, posting updates on his mission training, along with a few insights into his home life. With only 26 updates under his micro-blogging belt, the astronaut already has more than 41,600 followers.

"I had not signed up as a Twitter person before, so this is new to me," said Massimino, noting that NASA's public relations team first suggested Twittering about his training. "It's really quick. I can just fire off a message. And the responses have been fun. We go through training and work hard. Sometimes we forget that a lot of people really think what we do is cool. I do more memorable things in one day now than I used to do in two or three years."

Massimino, whose Twitter username is " Astro_Mike," is training for the mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, which is set to launch on May 12. Massimino is slated to make a spacewalk during the mission.

NASA noted that this will be Massimino's second trip into space. In 2002, he flew on the STS-109 mission, which also traveled to the Hubble Space Telescope. He made two spacewalks during that mission, the space agency said.

While training for the latest mission, Massimino has been Twittering about practicing the shuttle's rendezvous with the Hubble telescope, training to replace a communication's box on the orbiter and in a personal note, firing up his family's barbeque.

Will he be able to actually Twitter from space? Well, that's still up in the air, so to speak.

In an interview with Computerworld, Massimino said that NASA is trying to figure out technical details that would enable him to Twitter from space. The agency is also working to make sure that the use of Twitter won't affect take away from Massimino's work schedule on the shuttle.

"We hope to but we're not sure," he said, adding that "I'm hopeful."

The astronaut also said that NASA hasn't limited what he can say in his Tweets. "They pretty much foolishly trust me," he said. "I don't mean to embarrass anyone. I hope I haven't done that. It's an open program we run here. The taxpayers are footing the bill on this. We are the lucky few who get to benefit and participate in the space program and fly in a rocket."

Right now, Massimino is trying to Twitter once or twice a day but says that may fall off a bit as the launch date nears and training intensifies.

Atlantis is expected to spend 11 days in space, with astronauts making a total of five spacewalks to repair and upgrade the telescope.

Last fall, a failed computer in Hubble forced NASA to remotely switch the orbiter over to an onboard backup system. NASA engineers made the switchover from a room in the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., while the telescope hurtled along its orbit around Earth at 17,500 mph.

Atlantis had been scheduled to service the Hubble telescope last fall, but the mission was postponed because of the telescope's computer problems. It was rescheduled for May 12, when astronauts will bring up new instrumentation, along with a new camera that is designed to give the orbiter the ability to see 10 times further and faster, according to Massimino.

After the astronaut's visit, NASA says Hubble's capabilities will be expanded and its lifetime extended through at least 2014.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory last May used Twitter to send alerts to its followers about the status of the Phoenix Mars Lander as it descended and touched down on the Red Planet. Those messages were sent during what NASA describes as "seven minutes of terror" as the lander entered the Martian atmosphere and braked from 13,000 mph to 5 mph for its descent and touchdown.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags twittersocial networkingNASA

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?