In a high tech first — really, really high — astronauts in space finally have Internet access.
Space station resident Timothy (TJ) Creamer had been working with flight controllers to establish Internet access from his orbital post ever since he moved in last month. On Friday, his effort paid off. He posted the first live Twitter post truly from space.
"Hello Twitterverse!" he wrote. "We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s"
Before, orbiting astronauts had to send such Twitter updates by e-mail to Mission Control in Houston. Then controllers posted the tweets.
The International Space Station crew can now use an on-board laptop to reach a desktop computer at Mission Control, and thereby browse the Web. This remote Internet access is possible whenever there is a solid high-speed communication link.
It's expected to provide a big morale boost.
"Long-duration astronauts, they commit to spending months away from family and friends. It's a pretty unique state of isolation," said NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries. "We expect this to enhance morale and productivity."
The astronauts will be subject to the same Internet access guidelines as other on-the-job government employees, namely no interfering with work.
Is NASA worried the astronauts might spend too much time online, more than 200 miles up?
"These are highly driven individuals," Humphries said with a chuckle, "so they're going to get their work done first."
The astronauts already had an Internet Protocol phone for private calls to family and friends.
Creamer is one month into a five-month mission. He is sharing the space station with another American, one Japanese and two Russians.
On the Net:
Creamer's Twitter feed: http://bit.ly/90Wy8e
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