NASA astronaut and International Space Station Commander Doug Wheelock became the first person to "check in" from space Oct. 22 using the mobile social networking application Foursquare. Wheelock's check in to the International Space Station launched a partnership between NASA and Foursquare to connect its users to the space agency, enabling them to explore the universe and discover Earth.
Foursquare users "check in" to venues wherever they go, using the service to find friends nearby, get helpful tips about the places they're visiting, and be challenged and rewarded for experiencing new things.
"Check-ins from around the world have been cool, but this blew my mind! We're psyched to partner with NASA to help users explore the space program and the universe," said Dennis Crowley, chief executive officer and co-founder of Foursquare.
When Wheelock checked in to the International Space Station venue using Foursquare's mobile site aboard the orbiting laboratory, 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.
The partnership also features a completely customized homepage 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 creating capabilities for sustainable human and robotic exploration to exploring Earth, the solar system and the universe beyond to developing critical enabling technologies such as the space shuttle and conducting science in orbit aboard the International Space Station. Through this partnership, when Foursquare users check in to NASA sites, they will discover interesting things that happen at each of the agency's locations.
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.