NASA has set up an impressive wireless connection that provides astronauts on International Space Station with Internet access so they can surf the Web, e-mail their friends and family back home, and even send Twitter messages.
Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer started using the connection this morning by sending the first tweet originating from the space station.
Creamer isn't the first astronaut to Twitter from outer space. NASA astronaut Mike Massimino used Twitter to communicate with NASA fans from the space shuttle Atlantis during its mission last May to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. However, in that case, Massimino sent 140-character messages from Atlantis to NASA's Mission Control where engineers posted on the social network.
Creamer, on the other hand, will be posting his own tweets from the space station.
"Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station -- the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s," Creamer said in his first tweet early this morning.
NASA noted that the station's wireless connection, called the Crew Support LAN, uses existing communication links to and from the station. The space agency is hoping the direct communications will provide astronauts with better ties to their families and friends and thus ease the stress and isolation of long missions housed in a cramped, closed environment.
The other astronauts now on the space station, Soichi Noguchi and ISS Commander Jeff Williams, also are expected to tweet from space.
The new connection comes just a few weeks before the crew is slated to get some company early next month.
The six-person crew of the space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to liftoff for a trip to the space station on Feb. 7 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Endeavour traveled to the space station last July on a mission to deliver and install the last of the Japanese laboratory there.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, send e-mail to email@example.com or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed .