Archive for January, 2010

NASA Astronaut Makes First Tweet From Space

TJ Creamer NASA Astronaut

Astronaut T.J. Creamer, Expedition 22 flight engineer in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station, January 4, 2010.

While Captain James T. Kirk seemed to be very comfortable sending messages by way of his hand held Communicator, NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer is just as comfortable tweeting…from outer space. In a move that was literally out of this world, Creamer became the first person to tweet from a location other than the planet Earth.

Through his Twitter account (Astro_TJ), he sent the following tweet from the International Space Station (ISS) on January 22, 2010:

“Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s”

Until now, NASA astronauts had no internet (world wide web) access. They would have to email Twitter messages to Mission Control, in Houston, and someone would transfer the messages to their Twitter accounts. The ISS crew can now utilize a laptop that has a remote desktop connection to a computer on the ground for private internet access. The astronauts are subject to the same internet usage guidelines that government employees must abide by here on Earth.

National Geographic Aims High With Space Tourism Documentary

The 20th century saw the likes of inventions such as the airplane, the rocket engine, the computer and the space shuttle. Through the course of natural progression, it seemed to be inevitable that the early 21st century would usher in space tourism. And starting this spring, the National Geographic Channel will air the activities of pioneers in the space industry during a 4 part series.

Sir Richard Branson will be followed by cameras as his company, Virgin Galactic, tests its spaceship, the VSS Enterprise, and prepares it for the first passengers of his low earth orbit (LEO) space tourism company. Branson and aerospace engineer Burt Rutan are trying to create a company (and business model) that will shuttle 50,000 passengers into space over a 10 year period.

According to, the series will be produced by Darlow Smithson Productions, producers of such documentaries as 9/11: Phone Calls from the Towers and Miracle of the Hudson Plane Crash.

Cecil Field adds its name to the list of spaceports

On January 11, 2010, Cecil Field, located in Jacksonville, become the first FAA approved commercial spaceport in Florida. According to the license, the air facility is permitted to operate a launch site “supporting suborbital reusable launch vehicle missions.”

While Virgin Galactic is expected to utilize the Spaceport America spaceport in New Mexico, Cecil Field will have the opportunity to court other space companies that are planning space flights. However, it is currently the 8th commercial spaceport in the United States.

Where Does Space Begin?


Where does space begin?

In light of the burgeoning space tourism industry, a clarification on exactly where space begins seems to be in order. After all, there is a continually growing list of space tourists eagerly willing to pay a substantial fee to exit Earth. So, where does space begin? Well, it depends on who you ask. Really, it does. If you’re okay with an ambiguous definition, The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, discusses aeronautical and space activities “…outside the Earth’s atmosphere.”  (Title I, Sec. 103)

Ambiguity continues in an explanation of the combined environment of air and space (aerospace), in the Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force Vol 2 (1992)  which states that “the environment extends from the earth’s surface toward infinity…The difference between (the) atmosphere and space is obvious but where the transition takes place is not clear.”

If you’re seeking a firm line of demarcation, the United States Air Force  honors its pilots with astronaut wings if they successfully reach an altitude of 50 miles (80 km). However, this boundary is not internationally recognized.

At an altitude of 62 miles (100 km) above see level, the Kármán Line is generally accepted as the de facto boundary that separates Earth’s atmosphere from outer space. The Kármán Line is also recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which in part establishes “rules for the control and certification of world aeronautical and astronautical records.”