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Outreach from space: The ISS Effect

Just like many of you I have been following many astronauts during training, mission, return and whatever happens after return. For us spacetweeps it is great to see what it means to be an astronaut. What happens during training, how they prepare for their work in space and the launch, how they experience their time in space and how they communicate with those of us that stay behind on the planet? Obviously social media is the perfect way to keep this communication channel open throughout this entire process. We love to follow our astro_’s on Twitter!
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The future of space outreach

NASA announced yesterday that it would suspend all public outreach and education efforts per immediately, as an effect of the sequestration measures of the US government. The original internal NASA memo that was published by our friends at SpaceRef caused an immediate outburst of disbelief and disappointment on all (non-NASA) social media channels. Although the message is clearly not a hoax, it needs to be seen what the actual effect of this message will be to future NASA events and communication, but it sounds severe enough. The spacetweep community will definitely notice.

Immediately after this announcement several discussions about the future of space outreach arose on blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Most focused on whether or not this could be true, but all soon realized it is. Some then started to focus on the implications and possible solutions. How can the space enthusiast community jump in? How will this shift the focus to other countries? And what should the outreach message be anyway? Listen in to a rather philosophical conversation I had with my UK space outreach friend Amjad Zaidi on Facebook: (more…)

NASA’s new Social Media Credentials tweetup model

Social media is one of the fastest evolving new media in society. Tools and methods seem to success each other at ever increasing rates, making it difficult to stay on top of the latest, even for the social media savvy readers of this blog. In the space community this evolution has largely been driven by NASA. After organizing the first space-related tweetup at JPL in January of 2009, NASA continued to embrace and include the social media community in its public outreach and communication strategy.

Just before the first tweetup in 2009 NASA became active on several social media platforms. It is by far the industry leading space organization on Twitter and Facebook and has set the standard on many other platforms as well. NASA TV is probably the best known online TV channel in the world.

Since the first experimental #NASATweetup events in 2009 the concept proved very successful for NASA. And despite some initial internal doubts it quickly evolved into a key new communication channel to the general public. Opening doors of facilities and events to its Twitter followers created an increasingly large worldwide community of NASA ambassadors. In April 2012 the audience was enlarged to include followers on other platforms, and the event name changed into #NASASocial.

Less than three years after the first #NASATweetup and six months after switching to the #NASASocial model, NASA is now introducing the ‘Social Media Credentials’ model. This third ‘evolution’ brings the social media community in line with traditional media. There are a few changes though. Selection of social media users is no longer random. In order to be eligible, an applicant has to meet certain criteria. Active participation on multiple channels is now a clear prerequisite. In NASA’s own words:

“Social media credentials give users a chance to apply for the same access as journalists in an effort to align the access and experience of social media representatives with those of traditional media. People, who actively collect, report, analyze and disseminate news on social networking platforms are encouraged to apply for media credentials. Selection is not random. All social media accreditation applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Those chosen must prove through the registration process they meet specific engagement criteria.” (source)

The first time this new credentials principle was introduced was for the @SpaceX Dragon launch in October 2012. The NASA social media team explained the background of the new social media credentials as follows:

“Social media users selected to attend the SpaceX launch will be given the same access as journalists in an effort to align the access and experience of social media representatives with those of traditional media. “We look at this as a natural extension and an evolution of the NASA Social concept,” said Bob Jacobs [@BNJacobs], deputy associate administrator for the agency’s Office of Communications. “Just as radio, television, and other media expanded the definition of ‘the press,’ we’re going to open our doors to influential and interested people who engage in social media activities and invite them to work alongside traditional media.” (source)

This new concept is proof that for NASA – as for society in general – social media are becoming a mainstream communication channel, and no longer something subordinate to traditional media. This means that savvy social media users and bloggers are considered as important as traditional journalists. It will be interesting to see how NASA will manage and ensure the quality of the public outreach message through these ‘citizen reporters‘. Accreditation for these social media space ambassadors is great step in the right direction. A development that deserves our support and will keep NASA in the forefront of social media integration in public outreach. Hopefully others will follow suit…

Spacetweeps in the Arctic: Join #AuroraTweetup

One of the greatest benefits of being part of the #spacetweeps community are the great events that are organized. These events are the best way to turn a space passion into a true space ambassadorship and many new friends. When joining my first #NASATweetup in 2011 the other attendees told me it would change my life, which I politely laughed away. But wow, were they right! So after #NASATweetup followed ESA/DLR #SpaceTweetup, #CNESTweetup, #AndreTweetup, #SpaceKoelsch 1-3 and a few #SpaceUps. It is great to be in the heart of the best virtual and real life community in the world! (more…)

SpaceUp Saudi Arabia: A story worth being told!

A small group of female Saudi spacetweeps has taken the challenge to organize the first SpaceUp Unconference in the Middle East. It is really great to see the US-born SpaceUp movement now quickly taking over the world. Last September we saw the first non-US event take place in Europe, while this December 1st we will see the first @SpaceUpIndia event in Bangalore. But the event in Saudi Arabia in January 2013 promises to be a breakthrough event for several reasons: (more…)

11 Space and Science things to do before you’re 11

50 things to do before you're 11 3/4Fifty things to do before you’re 11 and three quarters. This is the title of a bucket list for children by the UK’s National Trust (@nationaltrust). Besides being a great inspiration for kids at an age that they never know what to do, it serves as a signal for parents that many children are raised as couch potatoes. Children lose touch with the outdoors, don’t know where their food comes from, and become afraid to get their hands dirty. So with a list of 1) climbing a tree, 2) running down a really big hill, 3) camp out in the wild and 47 other cool activities, kids are stimulated to get out there and be inspired by nature.

Inspired by space

Personally I think space and science suffer a similar fate as the great outdoors. For some reason the beforementioned young couch potatoes are out of touch with science and space. So where @nationaltrust is luring kids to get out there and do 50 cool things in the outdoors, us spacetweeps should make an effort to get them to experience 11 cool things in space and science. (more…)

Zoo calling space

Space events are everywhere. But even the more seasoned space enthusiast will not easily end up at a zoo. Yesterday Artis Amsterdam Zoo organized a live inflight call with ESA astronaut André Kuipers. As it happens, André Kuipers is a fan and  ambassador of the zoo. He even took the zoo mascotte ‘Artis de Marsis’ up into the ISS with him. To honor this good relationship between the zoo and ‘its’ astronaut, the zoo organized a live connection with ISS for zoo friends and local schools. (more…)

The Russians always launch

Extreme weather no objection for Soyuz

Weer Magazine article spreadCircumstances at Baikonur were perfect when cosmonaut André Kuipers was launched into space last December: Temperatures around -30 degrees Centigrade and crystal clear skies. Why do the Russians continue using their remote base in the middle of Kazachstan’s endless steppe?

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SpaceTweeps tweetup in Cologne: #SpaceKoelsch2

SpaceTweeps tweetup in Cologne: #SpaceKoelsch2

SpaceKoelschAfter the great success of the first European #SpaceTweetup, a bunch of European spacetweeps, led by DLR social media editor @HenningKrause, decided to start the new year with a new tweetup. More a networking event than a tweetup, it became the sequel to #SpaceKoelsch. Last September this was the pre-party to the ESA/DLR #Spacetweetup. Now the event in a typical Cologne beerhall became the main event itself. #SpaceKoelsch 2 was born!

With the date set to Saturday evening January 14th, a group of tweeps decided to turn the evening into a spacetweeps weekend, with a pre-party on Friday evening and an ad-hoc program during the day on Saturday. And again it was DLR’s Henning to jump forward and organize a perfect daytime spacetweeps excursion to two of Europe’s most famous radio telescopes, which happen to be near Cologne. A great start to a great new spaceyear! Here is a report of the event(s): (more…)

Space 2.0

CopenhagenSuborbitalsTriggered by the Space 2.0 LinkedIn group I wrote this blog post, investigating what 2.0 means in space exploration. It is interesting to see the 2.0-hype spread over all aspects of society these days. It is being used for anything slightly futuristic, regardless whether it is really something new. And with the widespread of the term 2.0, newer developments are now slated 3.0 or even higher. So what is ‘Space 2.0’ really?

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SoyuzTweetup Baikonur – Launch Day!

SoyuzTweetup Baikonur – Launch Day!

More launch pads, SoyuzTweetup and a Launch!

Launch dayBaikonur, 21 December 2011 – Finally. Today is the day we have been living up to for a long time. The launch of Soyuz TMA-03M, with ‘the’ Dutch ESA astronaut André Kuipers on board. It is still dark outside when I wake up around 8 o’clock. Today our program consists of two major visits. First we will go to the furthest launch location at the cosmodrome: the Proton launch facility. Then we have some time in the city before going to launch pad 1 for the launch in the early evening.

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