Astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a special software upgrade last week— personal access to the Internet and the World Wide Web via the ultimate wireless connection.
Expedition 22 Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer made first use of the new system Friday, when he posted the first unassisted update to his Twitter account, @Astro_TJ, from the space station. Previous tweets from space had to be e-mailed to the ground where support personnel posted them to the astronaut's Twitter account. The first space tweet was:
"Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station -- the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s"
This personal Web access, called the "Crew Support LAN," takes advantage of existing communication links to and from the station and gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. The system will provide astronauts with direct private communications to enhance their quality of life during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.
During periods when the station is actively communicating with the ground using high-speed Ku-band communications, the crew will have remote access to the Internet via a ground computer. The crew will view the desktop of the ground computer using an onboard laptop and interact remotely with their keyboard touchpad.
Astronauts will be subject to the same computer use guidelines as government employees on Earth. In addition to this new capability, the crew will continue to have official e-mail, Internet Protocol telephone, and limited videoconferencing capabilities.
To follow Twitter updates from Creamer and two of his crewmates, ISS Commander Jeff Williams and Soichi Noguchi, visit http://twitter.com/NASA_Astronauts.