HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — He's an astronaut, a U.S. Army colonel and a self-proclaimed geek with a master's degree in physics from M.I.T., but T. J. Creamer knows why he's really famous.
"The tweet heard around the world?" Creamer laughed Wednesday at Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center. "One-hundred-forty characters is what I'll be famous for."
On Jan. 22, Creamer sent the TTHATW (The Tweet Heard Around The World) from the International Space Station:
"Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s."
It was the first live tweet from space, but Creamer said the real "techno-leap" was directly logging on to the Internet from space for the first time.
"The first thing I wanted to do was go, 'We're here,'" Creamer said. "The next morning when I told Jeff (Williams), the commander, that we're live and able to get out, the first thing he does is send flowers to his wife.
"And I go, ohhh, that probably would have been a better thing to do."
Funny stories were part of why Creamer asked to come to Marshall, where teams at the Payload Operations Center link scientists around the world with crews performing their experiments on the station.
Creamer spent 161 days on the station ending with a ride back to Earth June 1 aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule. He also launched aboard a Soyuz, and he's not worried about relying on the Russians for rides while America decides what rockets to build next.
"The reliability numbers are really, really good," Creamer said, "and the training program is outstanding."
Creamer screened a 25-minute video of his mission for payload operations team members at Marshall and answered questions. He also offered tips for making the ground-to-station link work even better in the future.
Creamer took a zig-zag path to space from his job as an Army aviator and IT specialist, and he couldn't offer a clear route to becoming an astronaut today.
"The needs change from selection cycle to selection cycle," Creamer said.
But when he's asked, Creamer said, he always makes three suggestions:
—"Stay in school and follow what you love and become really good at what you love."
—"Show you can work in a risk-managed environment. Don't be risky. Go out and do parachuting. Go out and do hang-gliding. Go out and do scuba. It's all a risk environment, and the thing you want to demonstrate is that you can manage risk and operate in it."
—"Be the best team player that you can possibly be. I'm not saying be the best player on the team. Be the one that can contribute."
Do those things, Creamer said, "and you just open up worlds of horizons of exploration and you enrich your life and, oh, by the way, it just happens to help in an applications packet."
Information from: The Huntsville Times, http://www.al.com/huntsville