Getting a glimpse into the lives of astronauts in space has been de rigueur since the days of the Apollo program, but actually interacting with those busy space-dwellers? That’s a much more modern trend, and one that NASA seems eager to continue.
To that end, NASA recently announced that U.S. astronauts Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency would be fielding questions in what the organization is billing as the first Google+ hangout from the International Space Station at 11AM Eastern on February 22.
It wouldn’t be the first time some of these guys have engaged with the earthbound masses — Hadfield in particular is no stranger to this sort of thing since he hosted an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit back in December just a few days before he strapped into a Soyuz and blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Since then he’s also engaged in a bit of back and forth with wannabe spacefarer William Shatner on Twitter, a conversation that eventually drew in other Star Trek alumni and none other than Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the surface of the moon.
Agencies like NASA have been working to expand their influence in social channels for years now, and thankfully so far things seem to be going well — NASA is coming up on the four-year anniversary of its first NASA Tweetup event, and expanded its presence on Facebook and Google+ in 2012. As one of the resident space nerds here, I’m convinced that the traditional means of space travel and exploration are in dire need of disruption, and by socially engaging with space enthusiasts young and old, NASA may be helping to inspire a new generation of skyward thinkers.
Curious about the ins and outs of months spent in microgravity? I can’t blame you given that space travel (or even just hanging out in low earth orbit) isn’t the sort of thing most of us are going to experience anytime soon, but do try to avoid some of these cliches should you decide to ask a question. Speaking of which, you have until February 12 to submit your queries in the form of a 30-second YouTube video (don’t forget the hashtag #askAstro), and tweets and Google+ posts tagged with #askAstro will be considered as well.