nasa big The first check in from space? It just happened via Foursquare and NASA.There is no doubt in anyone’s mind about the growing popularity of location-based services. But today we’ve seen something that is not only a world-first but also just really cool. From the International Space Station, Commander Doug Wheelock has just made the first check in from space.

Using Foursquare’s mobile web interface, Wheelock kicked off a program for NASA in conjunction with Foursquare that aims to help raise awareness of the many locations where we pass space technology every day, even when we don’t know it. What more fitting place to kick off the program than from the ISS itself?

When Wheelock checked in to the space station venue using Foursquare’s mobile site, 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.”

Picture 6 The first check in from space? It just happened via Foursquare and NASA.

As for the rest of us? The partnership will find information from NASA about locations and provide it to the user. For example, “someone checking in at the agency’s headquarters in Washington will discover that a replica of NASA astrophysicist John Mather’s Nobel Prize is on display in the lobby.”

The partnership also brings about an entirely new page for NASA on the Foursquare site. Our friends over at JESS3 were the brains behind the new page’s design. Giving a rundown of all of the NASA-enabled venues, the Foursquare page aims to be an information center, as well as providing a running tab of what you’ve seen:

Picture 5 The first check in from space? It just happened via Foursquare and NASA.

According to NASA official Bob Jacobs:

“Partnering with Foursquare allows NASA to connect directly with the people who visit our locations and share with them the interesting things that happen at each place.”

Of course, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley was understandably excited as well:

“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.”

Video of the check-in, as well as information about Wheelock’s Twitter and Foursquare accounts will be posted on a special page at the NASA site. Makes sure to check them out. Whatever your stance on location-based services, this is incredibly cool.

Update: Our friends at Trada have a great interview with NASA up on their site. Well worth a read.