In March of 2016, NASA astronaut and Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart, Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, returned from a one year mission meant to test the limits of human endurance in space. The men lived and worked aboard the International Space Station for a full year, doing everything from growing romaine lettuce to conducting space walks. Before and after their departure, they were tested extensively to better understand the effects of living in space on the human body. Interestingly enough, Kelly had an identical twin brother, a former astronaut himself, who remained on Earth and served as a physical benchmark to his brother before and after his journey.
The entire journey was documented by Kelly on every social media platform from Twitter to Instagram to Snapchat, all under the hashtag “#AYearInSpace.” He was even able to host a Facebook Live session while aboard the space station. Fans could follow along with Kelly’s journey on their social media of choice. Better yet, it gave Kelly a key connection to Earth and fueled the need for social interaction that is innate in all humans.
The wildly successful social media campaign gained NASA thousands of new followers and increased awareness in a time when global interest and funding in space exploration is declining. The hashtag even prompted an Emmy-nominated documentary series of the same name; it was hosted by Time and is still available for view today on their website, thus generating more buzz and helping grow attention and awareness to a new level.
This campaign sheds a light on the amazing things that social media can do and its true power to unite people and promote a common goal, even beyond our planet.