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First space-tweeting astronaut leaves NASA

Jul. 30, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By HEATHER KULDELL   |   Comments
Astronaut Michael Massimino peers into space shuttle Columbia's crew cabin during a brief break in work on the Hubble Space Telescope, latched down just a few feet behind him in Columbia's cargo bay.
Astronaut Michael Massimino peers into space shuttle Columbia's crew cabin during a brief break in work on the Hubble Space Telescope, latched down just a few feet behind him in Columbia's cargo bay. ()

Astronaut Mike Massimino has left NASA for a position at Columbia University.

Massimino, or @Astro_Mike to his more than 1.2 million Twitter followers, was the first astronaut to tweet from space. On May 19, 2009, while on a space-shuttle mission, he tweeted, “From orbit: We see 16 sunrises and sunsets in 24 hrs, each one spectacular as the sun lights up the atmosphere in a spectrum of colors.”

“Mike embraced the opportunity to engage with the public in new ways and set the stage for more space explorers to be able to share their mission experience directly with people around the globe. We wish him well in his new role fostering the dreams and innovations of students just beginning their career paths,” said Bob Behnken, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center, in a press release.

Massimino spent two decades at NASA, during which he logged 570 hours in space and 30 hours of spacewalks. He completed two space shuttle missions, one of which included successfully upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope with a new power unit, an advanced camera and solar arrays in 2002.

His last day at NASA was July 29.

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