Michael Massimino also known as @Astro_Mike is getting ready to tweet from outer space. Massimino is currently training for overhauling the Hubble Space Telescope. Massimino will be launching into space on May 12 aboard NASA space shuttle Atlantis.
“Practicing approaches and landings with my crew in the space shuttle simulator,” tweeted Massimino about an hour ago. Massimino has done two spacewalks so far. Massimino’s 11 day space mission includes 5 spacewalks and will help extend the Hubble’s lifetime to at least 2014.
Last time Massimino travelled to space, he did some maintenance work to the Hubble telescope. This time around he will be replacing batteries and gyroscopes on the telescope along with attaching a docking ring for future robotic vehicles to make repairs to the telescope’s systems.
This mission is quite a bit riskier than routine missions because it the shuttle is not bound for the International Space Station. If the orbiter suffers from damage, astronauts could take refuge at the International Space Station, but in this case Atlantis will have to fly at a higher orbit and different inclination than the station. If an emergency is necessary, NASA would send a second space shuttle from the launch pad in Florida as a rescue team.
Massimino will be using a mobile device to update Twitter messages. He is currently the only NASA astronaut to use the micro-blogging tool for space agency business.
“Social media is a large and growing sector of communications,” stated NASA spokesperson James Hartsfield. “So this is a very neat thing and it offers Mike a chance to connect with the public.”