The first live Twitter messages from space were less than a year ago, but already astronauts have moved on to geolocation: Douglas C. Wheelock, commander of the Expedition 25 mission, earned the "NASA Explorer" badge on Foursquare for checking into the International Space Station on Friday morning.
Foursquare business development rep Eric Friedman said on the company blog that Wheelock was "the first human to ever use a location-based service from space," leaving open the possibility that aliens somewhere else in the universe may have developed their own social-networking services and consequently, as far as we know, may have been checking into interplanetary locations for thousands of years. (But do they have celebrity investors as hunky as Ashton Kutcher?)
The check-in was, in part, a promotion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as it encourages ordinary, non-space-based Foursquare users to follow its profile on the networking site and receive tips and points for checking into places like the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, the U.S. Space Camp, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
As a result, ordinary Foursquare users can earn the NASA Explorer badge, too. That makes it a bit different from the last time Foursquare participated in a stunt involving a sponsored badge that could be obtained by checking in at an extremely difficult-to-access location: The "Last Degree" badge, a promotion in conjunction with an Arctic climate-change awareness campaign, can only be unlocked at the North Pole.