Space station astronauts get Web access

For the first time, International Space Station crew members have personal access to the Internet

Astronauts on the International Space Station now have personal access to the Internet to browse the Web and use social media such as Twitter thanks to a software upgrade that went into effect today, according to NASA.

Expedition 22 Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer was the first astronaut to use the new system today, 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, according to NASA.

The posting read, "Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station -- the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s"

The personal Web access, named the Crew Support LAN, uses existing communication links to and from the station. The system provides astronauts with direct private communications, according to NASA.

The access is being provided to enhance the quality of life for astronauts during long-duration missions, NASA officials said.

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 on-board laptop and interact remotely with their keyboard touchpad.

The astronauts will be subject to the same computer use guidelines as government employees on Earth, according to NASA. In addition to this new capability, the crew will continue to have official e-mail, Internet Protocol telephone and limited videoconferencing capabilities.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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