When Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, millions across America huddled around TV screens, anxiously awaiting Neil Armstrong’s first onto the Sea of Tranquility. But Armstrong’s first step for man wasn’t just a giant leap for mankind, it was also a previously unfathomable feat of information-sharing: live television cameras at NASA Mission Control in Houston broadcast the action to millions of TV viewers around the world in near-real time.
Much has changed since then: The world didn’t see any photographs from that first Moon landing until they were flown back to Earth. But this July, we watched live as the Curiosity rover landed on Mars, and received its first photos from the surface of the Red Planet just 20 minutes later.
For today’s space explorers, there is no break in communication from liftoff to landing. Astronauts can share nearly every aspect of spaceflight with their families and fans through video, audio and social media. They tweet and post status updates about their latest spacewalks. They can say hi to their kids via Skype and even text message. It’s so easy, even the 85-year-old pope can do it.
Today at 1 p.m. Eastern time (noon central), TIME senior editor and space expert Jeff Kluger will sit down with NASA astronaut Ron Garan to discuss how the social media experience has changed the spaceflight experience. The two will be speaking live from Houston.
Kluger, the author of eight books including Apollo 13 (which inspired the film of the same name), has reported extensively for TIME about space and science news since 1996.
Garan is an astronaut who’s been on two missions to the International Space Station and has logged more than 178 days in space. His web portal, FragileOasis, aims to help combine social media with space travel by encouraging astronauts to post blog and Twitter updates, allowing space lovers the world over to follow the newest projects from NASA and international space agencies.
Join the two here at 1pm ET for a Facebook Live chat to hear them discuss the technological future of spaceflight.