NASA: Twitterers can question shuttle crew

Astronauts will field questions from the Twitterverse while aloft in Endeavour

NASA this week said that the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour plans to take questions in space from the Twitterverse.

The space shuttle is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:39 a.m. EST on Sunday. The six Endeavour crew members are set to head to the orbiting International Space Station to deliver an Italian-built module that will be connected to the station, as well as a seven-windowed cupola, which will serve as a robotics control room.

And while the astronauts will be busily working on the space station during spacewalks, they'll also make time to take questions via Twitter.

NASA Astronaut Mike Massimino sent the first tweet from space last May while aboard the space shuttle Atlantis during its mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

At that time, Massimino sent 140-character messages from Atlantis to NASA's Mission Control facilities where engineers posted them on the social network.

This time, Massimino will be working in Mission Control in Houston as the shuttle's CapCom or spacecraft communicator. He'll be fielding questions that are sent to the Endeavour crew over the micro-blogging site.

Twitterers can tweet their questions for the crew until early in the morning on Thursday, Feb. 11.

At 3:24 a.m. EST on Feb. 11, Massimino will host an interactive event with the crew from his console in Mission Control, according to NASA. He will relay as many submitted questions as he can to the crew during the 20-minute event and then he will tweet the crew's responses for them.

The event will be broadcast on the NASA TV Web site.

Twitterers can send their questions to Massimino's Twitter account, @astro_Mike, or by adding the hashtag #askastro to their tweets.

Just last month, NASA announced that it had set up a wireless connection that provides astronauts on the 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 was the first one to send a tweet from the space station.

NASA did not say if the space station crew would be taking questions from the Twitterverse, but the shuttle will be docked with the station during the Twitter event.

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 or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed .

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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