The last weekend of May 2020 marked an important milestone for human spaceflight and space exploration in the United States. The SpaceX Crew Dragon launched on Saturday, May 30 from Cape Canaveral in Florida and docked at the International Space Station the following day. This event is of great significance for two main reasons. First, after almost a decade since the last manned launch, the United States has sent astronauts into orbit from its own soil again. Second, it was the first time ever that astronauts were carried into orbit in a privately-made vehicle. While news channels made sure to document every minute, an analysis of the conversation on Twitter demonstrated just how meaningful this event was for the United States. We used Scraawl SocL to take a look at the activity the week of May 30 – June 4, 2020 and collected 100,000 tweets to gain more insights.
The day of the launch, there was a big interest and many tweets. Another smaller peak in tweets occurred the following day when the space capsule docked at the International Space Station.
The vast majority of retweets were from the two main entities involved in this effort, @NASA and @SpaceX.
Among the top URLs was a link to space.com.
Once the astronauts settled into their new home away from home, they rang Nasdaq’s opening bell from space while viewers watched from the big screen in Times Square.
Sentiment Analysis clearly shows that the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch was an uplifting and exciting event (97% of the tweets were positive).
Using Top Geo Locations, we see that most people tweeting were located in the East Coast (geo-coded posts) and the biggest concentration was in Florida, where the launch took place.
Some lucky people were actually watching the launch live in person!
Looking at the geo-referenced posts, which show the locations people were talking about, we see again most of the tweets are geo-referenced in Florida. There were also quite a few, 275 in number, geo-referenced posts in California.
By filtering for that specific area and looking at the raw data, we see that a tweet from user @nextspaceflight was retweeted several times. In that tweet, @nextspaceflight was able to capture a stunning photo of the Crew Dragon approaching the International Space Station for docking!
And here is a closer look of that photo, which was shared 237 times.
The launch was not only exciting for scientists and engineers, but also for the kids of the next generation. The Media Gallery showed several images of kids dressed up in astronaut gear, drawings from art class, cool LEGO sets, and other DIY arts and crafts.
Running a separate search for Instagram posts, the Media Gallery showed grown-ups taking creativity to a new level by making launch-themed coffee art and dragon-themed tattoos.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon launch is now an integral part of US human spaceflight history. It is a testament that with intrepid vision and hard work, great things can be achieved. It also shows that when extraordinary things are achieved, they make people excited and proud. Hopefully, events like this will inspire the younger generations and encourage them to boldly follow their dreams for continuing space exploration. In the words of Buzz Lightyear, “To infinity and beyond!”