What, When, How, Why

What?

ISS Wave is a round-the-world wave by us humans on Earth towards our fellow humans on the International Space Station (ISS) as she passes overhead at 17,500mph. It is being coordinated through a grassroots Twitter campaign – follow @ISSwave.

When?

To make sure as many people around the world get a chance to join in, ISS Wave will be “live” between Friday 24th December and Friday 31st December.

How?

For instructions on how to participate, please see our Wave with us! page. As for how the project will unfold, for one week starting the 24th of December, people around the world – recruited through the influence of Twitter – will wave at the ISS. Whether they wave alone or in groups, they will share their waves on Twitter including in their tweets the hashtag #ISSwave, their zip/postal code or city, country code and, optionally, thoughts, photos and videos. The tweets will be registered on a live map on this website starting December 24th.

We are also working on getting some or all of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station to photograph and/or film themselves waving back at us either during or after Wave week. No promises yet but there are at least two astronauts — including Astronaut Ron Garan — who have voiced their support for ISSwave in emails and tweets.

Why?

Watching an ISS pass is a startlingly emotional experience. Seeing that star-bright outpost of humanity move gracefully and silently across the night sky — at a predictable time and from a predictable direction — evokes feelings of pride (“We made that!”), solidarity (“There are humans on that! Hellooo, humans!”) and wonder (“It’s just so beautiful/fast/bright!”).

During 2009/2010, Twitter acquaintances and regular ISS watchers Lucy Rogers (@DrLucyRogers), Richard Grant (@rpg7twit) and Karen James (@kejames) discovered that watching ISS passes is even more exciting when done together with other humans, whether they are standing right next to you or watching from afar. To know that you are not the only one looking up in awe at this spectacle of human ingenuity and cooperation speeding across the night sky creates a special connection between us.

ISS Wave will amplify this connection by involving not three or four people, but tens or maybe even hundreds of people around the world. We hope that many of those people will be first-time ISS watchers, and that this will mark an increase in awareness about not only the fun of watching ISS passes but also basics like: yes, there is an International Space Station; yes, there are people up there (Who’s on the station now?); yes, it orbits the Earth every 90 minutes; yes, they do ground-breaking science every day which affects our lives here on Earth.

ISS Wave also celebrates the 10th anniversary of continuous human presence in space (November 2nd, 2010) and the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight into space – the first human spaceflight (April 12th, 2011).

We support human spaceflight in general and continued investment in human spaceflight programs around the world.