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NASA’s First Space-Tweeting Astronaut And ‘Big Bang Theory’ Guest Flies To A New Position

Astronaut Mike Massimino on a spacewalk during shuttle mission STS-109 in March 2002. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Mike Massimino on a spacewalk during shuttle mission STS-109 in March 2002. Credit: NASA

The first astronaut who tweeted from space is leaving NASA, the agency announced yesterday. Mike Massimino (best known to his 1.29 million followers as @astro_mike) — and also one of several astronauts to repair the Hubble Space Telescope — will now bring his skills to a full-time position with Columbia University in New York.

“Mike embraced the opportunity to engage with the public in new ways and set the stage for more space explorers to be able to share their mission experience directly with people around the globe,” stated Bob Behnken, NASA’s chief of the astronaut office at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“We wish him well in his new role fostering the dreams and innovations of students just beginning their career paths,” he said.

Massimino found time to embrace Twitter, then a new technology to NASA, during the busy STS-125 mission that was the final repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. Here’s the first tweet from space:

Following his social media activities in space, which received a great deal of publicity at the time, Massimino appeared several times on the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” as a fictionalized version of himself.  He also was prominently featured in the IMAX film Hubble 3D in 2010, which in part featured the spacewalking missions to repair the iconic NASA telescope.

Lately, Massimino’s outreach activities also included hosting the regular “ISS Mailbag” YouTube segment with fellow astronaut Don Pettit (@astro_pettit).

While the astronaut has not yet made a statement on Twitter, NASA paid tribute to him on its own Twitter account, as did others:

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • CHUCK July 30, 2014, 12:38 PM

    Had the pleasure of briefly meeting him during an event at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, very cool guy, a real gentleman. A great asset for Columbia University.

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