Space Shuttle Atlantis – The Last Shuttle Mission and Social Media

Space Shuttle Atlantis 7-8-11As I sat at my desk this morning watching the Space Shuttle Atlantis lift off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral this morning, I was both thrilled and saddened. Thrilled because I was witnessing a monumental scientific undertaking being executed almost flawlessly and saddened because this was the last of the Space Shuttle missions.

I watched the launch live on one of NASA’s UStream clannels. At the time I tuned in there had been over 4 million views of the stream and there were 800+ of us watching the event at that moment.

The folks at NASA are committed to letting us know what they are doing. One glance at the text on the bottom of their UStream page gives an idea of how wide their reach to teach is.

They are also committed to connecting and communicating with both the scientific and non-scientific communities via social media. You can join their many circles on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Gowalla and SlideShare. If you want to follow NASA through any, or all, of these services go to their connect page.

I kept open tabs with the Twitter and UStream conversations as the launch progressed. At least I tried to. The streams were moving very fast with comments and well wishes.

This is one of the many reasons I am such a fan of social networking. People from around the world came together to witness, converse and just plain share a momentous piece of history in real time. That couldn’t have happened five years ago.

The NASA Shuttle Program is in its 30th year. Now the last bird has flown and the nostalgia begins.

One of my favorite tweets came from Dr. Wernher Von Braun @DrVonBraun, ‘Well NASA, if you wanted to make the world’s foremost rocket scientist cry, then you have succeeded.’

You can follow the four Atlantis astronauts on Twitter; Chris Ferguson @Astro_Ferg, Doug Hurley @Astro_Doug, Sandy Magnus @Astro_Sandy,  Rex Walheim @Astro_Rex.