Tweets in Space

by Martyn Davies on 13th May 2009

It hardly makes the news anymore, but yesterday’s launch of the Space Shuttle STS-125 took Mike Massimo into orbit to send the first “tweet” from space.  No, of course that wasn’t the central mission (Hubble telescope repairs, of course), but with something of a media Twitter frenzy going on, of course it was always likely to happen.  If the mission is successful, we hope that other celebrity twitterers like Ashton Kutcher can be sent into space, with any luck never to return.

RT @Astro_mike: "Weeeeeeeeeeeeee......"

RT @Astro_mike: "Weeeeeeeeeeeeee......"

On the launchpad, ‘astro_mike’ was sending tweets using TwitterBerry, impressive in itself that the launchpad has CDMA coverage given its location.  In his place I’m sure I would have tried to send another message while the shuttle was actually going up, if only out of curiosity to see how long I was in range of the cell.  His only tweet from space so far was sent ‘from web’, so I’m assuming that the BlackBerry has been put away for the mission.  NASA conspiracy theorists will of course insist that the tweet came from a shed on Earth, possibly a UN shed.  A black UN shed.

@Astro_mike: “From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!”

Of course the BlackBerry would be unlikely to work in space; I’m guessing that a hand-off between cells at a speed of 17000 miles per hour has never been tested on a cellphone network.  He probably doesn’t have a GSM BlackBerry, so anyway he’d have to wait until they crossed North America to get any service.  But if it did work, I’d love to see just how fast the dot moves across the map as you run GoogleMaps…

This is a lost opportunity for the femtocell industry though: wouldn’t it make sense to fit a femtocell on the Shuttle and allow all of the astronauts to use their ‘Berrys and iPhones and whatever else, backhauling everything back to Earth?   With all the trumpeting about the benefits of the femtocell, could there possibly be any better test scenario?  The Space Shuttle is very definitely ‘out of coverage’, and definitely uneconomic to connect using a conventional base station..  Anyway the Space Shuttle fleet retires next year, so probably this opportunity has slipped away.

Martyn is also at VoiP User.

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