NASA astronaut and International Space Station Commander Doug Wheelock became the first person to "check in" from space Friday using the mobile social networking application Foursquare.
Wheelock's check in to the space station launches a partnership between NASA and Foursquare to connect its users to the space agency, enabling them to explore the universe and discover Earth.
The partnership also features a customized section of the Foursquare website for NASA, where the agency will provide official tips and information about the nation's space program in locations throughout the United States.
"NASA's work ranges from proving flight technologies to exploring the universe," said Bob Jacobs, deputy associate administrator for communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Partnering with Foursquare allows NASA to connect directly with the people who visit our locations and share with them the interesting things that happen at each place."
When Wheelock checked in to the space station venue using Foursquare's mobile site, he received a message that revealed a new Foursquare badge:
"You are now 220 miles above Earth traveling at 17,500 mph and unlocked the NASA Explorer Badge! Show this badge and get a free scoop of astronaut ice cream."
When Wheelock completes his mission and returns to Earth at the end of November, the NASA Explorer badge will be available for Foursquare users to earn.
"Check-ins from around the world have been cool, but this blew my mind!" said Dennis Crowley, CEO and co-founder of Foursquare. "We're psyched to partner with NASA to help users explore the space program and the universe."
Foursquare users check in to venues wherever they go using the service to find nearby friends; get helpful tips about the places they're visiting; and be challenged and rewarded for experiencing new things.
As result of the partnership, Foursquare users who check in to a NASA-related venue will find information from NASA about the location. For example, someone checking in at the agency's headquarters in Washington will discover that a replica of NASA astrophysicist John Mather's Nobel Prize is on display in the lobby.
Wheelock launched to the space station as a flight engineer for the Expedition 24 crew on June 15. On Sept. 22, he assumed command of the orbiting laboratory and Expedition 25. During his time in space, he and astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson conducted three spacewalks to replace a faulty cooling pump module on the station's backbone, known as the truss. Additionally, the Expedition 24 and 25 crew members continue work on more than 100 microgravity experiments in human research, biology and biotechnology, physical and materials sciences, technology development, and Earth and space sciences.