Houston, We've Had A Check-In: NASA Astronaut Just Used Foursquare From Space

If ever there was a time for Foursquare to give someone a badge, this is it: International Space Station Commander and NASA Astronaut Doug Wheelock has just checked-in from space using Foursquare, marking the first time a location-based app has been used from the great beyond. And yes, he’s getting a very special NASA Explorer badge to mark the occasion, along with the following congratulatory message:

“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.”

Suddenly my ‘Bender’ badge doesn’t sound quite as impressive. And if the prospect of free freeze-dried ice-cream wasn’t enough to get you space fans excited,  the occasion also marks the launch of a partnership between Foursquare and NASA.  Foursquare now features a special NASA website, and once Wheelock returns to Earth, us mere mortals will be able to earn the badge ourselves.

Soon, there will be a handful of NASA-related venues across the country — check-in at one,and you’ll be able to unlock the space shuttle badge too. NASA is also leaving foursquare tips with space-related factoids at a variety of venues.

So why is NASA doing this? NASA’s Stephanie Schierholz says that the organization is always looking to spread the word on what it’s up to, and that social media services have proven to provide great engagement for them. NASA has set up an array of online profiles that you can access from NASA.gov/connect, including a Facebook page, dozens of astronaut Twitter accounts, and more. This partnership between Foursquare and NASA was actually facilitated by design firm JESS3, which has built a number of NASA sites, including the Buzzroom project.

This comes on the heels of a special NASA partnership with competing location service Gowalla that focuses on Moon Rocks. If you check in using Gowalla at any real-world location in the US that is home to a moon rock, you’ll receive a reward (check out this map if you’re up to the challenge). NASA also coordinated the first tweet from space earlier this year.

Astronaut Wheelock is currently taking part in NASA Expedition 25. You can find his full bio right here.

We’ll have a video of the checkin shortly.