Twitter to Major Tom: NASA lets public tweet astronauts

A NASA astronaut is taking questions via Twitter for the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, scheduled to launch Feb. 7

Ever wanted to ask an orbiting astronaut what it's really like up there? Is the food any good? Can you sleep well in zero-g? And, of course, is that urine recycler still acting up?

Well, now's your chance. NASA astronaut Mike Massimino is accepting questions via Twitter for the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, which is scheduled to launch Feb. 7 on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Massimino, better known as @Astro_Mike on Twitter, will take questions from users of the micro-blogging service until Thursday, Feb. 11. At 2:24 a.m. CST on that date, he'll host an interactive event with the Shuttle crew from NASA's Mission Control in Houston, where he will be based during the mission.

During the 20-minute live Q&A session, Massimino will ask the astronauts as many questions as possible. The event will be broadcast live on the Web and NASA Television.

It's no surprise that NASA would preselect questions from Twitter users. One could only image the deluge of queries, many a bit loopy, that the Shuttle crew might encounter without some filtering.

How Many Aliens Have You Seen?

Indeed, Massimino and his NASA cohorts will certainly have an eclectic mix of questions to sift through. Two that may make the final cut include:

jtmax24: "What is the most spectacular thing in space you have seen?"

Tataryn52: "is it really as jaw-droppingly awesome to be in space as it looks?"

And one that probably won't:

GeneralSalt: "Where does poop go in space?" (A perfectly valid question, though.)

Twitter's Influence Grows

NASA's upcoming Twitter event isn't the first time the space agency has used the popular micro-blogging service as a public relations tool. Last month ISS flight engineer T.J. Creamer made history by sending the first-ever tweet from space.

And departing corporate executives aren't immune to Twitter's charms either. Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz yesterday tweeted his resignation, and even closed his message in poetic fashion with a haiku.

So who needs press releases anymore?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
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