Twittersphere: Social Space Frontier

Non-twit-oholics always ask me, “What’s the point? Why Twitter?”
I’m sorry. That’s like asking me, “Why chocolate?”
My answer, “Take the first bite, then we’ll talk.”

But, some still need convincing. I mean really. You know those types. The ones who look at the chocolate cheesecake with swirls of whipped cream…and walk away. Yeah, those guys. They need a bit more convincing.

If you’re one of them, here ya’ go. Maybe you’ll see what NASA sees out in the social space frontier. Feel free to join us there.

Social media offers new ways for NASA to interact with non-traditional audiences in a dynamic, viral conversation about space, the merits of exploring the unknown, and its relevance to every day life here on our home planet. For the first time, citizens of this planet can talk to scientists, engineers, policy-makers, and space travelers. Of all the new media tools available to us, Twitter offers the most intimate, immediate 24/7 access through mobile devices, laptops, and/or traditional keyboard access. In 140 characters or less, breaking space news pings around the world and back again.

STS-125, the Space Shuttle mission to repair Hubble, marked the first NASA mission where we actively engaged global citizens through social media – Twitter, blogs, Facebook. Mike @Astro_Mike Massimino became the first astronaut to use twitter before, during, and after his mission. In four short months, he broke one million followers. His willingness to tweet during the complex Hubble repair mission captivated media and non-media alike, and propelled @Astro-Mike to superstardom. Name of the game: access. Through @Astro_Mike, NASA granted outsiders access into an elite insider circle.

Twitter offers a simple new tool to help make space popular within the non-space crowd, and see traction on our goal to elevate “space” within pop culture. One measure of success: Twitter featured @Astro_Mike as one of Twitter’s top accounts on their front page, along with the likes of Hollywood’s Ashton @aplusk Kutcher who tops 3.9 million followers now. NASA made it to Twitter’s Top 10 trending topics a number of times during the mission, and in subsequent missions.

For the social media generation, @Astro_Mike gained hero-status akin to John Glenn or Neil Armstrong of the “Right Stuff” generation. Now others at NASA have followed his footsteps into the Twittersphere.

And you can too.

Here’s a list of current Astronaut Twitter Accounts (in no particular order):

@NASA_Astronauts 10,238 followers
@StationCDRKelly: Scott Kelly 1,973
@ShuttleCDRKelly: Mark Kelly 1,844
@Astro_Jeff – Jeff Williams 3,447
@Astro_Nicole – Nicole Stott 6,253
@Astro_Sandy – Sandy Magnus 3,769
@Astro_Jose – Jose Hernandez 59,241
@Astro_Tim – Tim Kopra 8,720
@Astro_Mike – Mike Massimino 1,157,551
@Astro_127 – Mark Polansky 40,581
@Astro_Bones – Bobbie Satcher 1,761
@Astro_Flow – Leland Melvin 992
@CFuglesang – ESA/Christer Fuglesang 3,905
@Astro_Soichi – JAXA/Soichi Wakata 677
@Astro_TJ – TJ Creamer 58

STS-129 Mission will blast off the planet on Monday, November 16 with Twitternauts @Astro_Bones and @Astro_Flow. Learn more about the mission and NASA. You can fan UP on NASA’s facebook too.

Follow my tweets or read more random thoughts at BethBeck’s Blog.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Out of this world, Beth! Okay, okay, bad pun…but I really appreciate this blog post…I had no idea so many astronauts were tweeting beyond the now iconic @Astro_Mike. It may very well be that one day our young people will remember the day he twittered from space…the way my generation remembers the Challenger explosion…new, positive impressions of NASA being formed. Wait til we tweet from the moon or Mars….or beyond!


Amazing…I think another clear ROI is that you are positioning NASA as the cutting-edge institution it is and should be. Everyone I knew that it was so cool NASA was Tweeting from outer space. That inspires current generation to support NASA funding and younger generations to come work at NASA.

Beth Beck

We hosted a 2-day tweet-up with 100+ space tweeps at Kennedy Space Center for the STS-129 launch. Wildly successful. We hit #3 on Twitter’s top 10 trending topics and stayed at #5 for hours.

What’s NOT to love about social media. (Except I received my first full-on porn tweet during the tweet-up.) Not cool!

If you’re agency hasn’t jumped into social media yet, dive in. The water’s great!