Live the Story: David Shukman answers your questions

BBC Science Editor, David Shukman
Image caption BBC Science Editor, David Shukman

The second in a series of live Twitter Q&A sessions called 'Live the Story', looking at what it's like to report on a big news event, featured BBC Science Editor David Shukman.

He was the BBC correspondent who reported on the last ever space shuttle launch before the shuttle programme was de-commissioned. He shared his thoughts on covering this historic moment in a live Q&A - from questions sent in by email, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter - on Wednesday 3rd April.

This is an edited version of the session.

Question from Ananya Mallavarapu on Facebook: What was the atmosphere like while you were there? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: Imagine a million people holding their breath - atmosphere was incredible and the sound waves hitting us were mind-blowing #AskBBCDavid

Question from Steve Morse on Facebook: So where were you standing? We stood close enough to feel it. #AskBBCDavid

David answers: Like all the media I was three miles away from the Launchpad - close enough to see and feel the experience #AskBBCDavid

Question from Annette Lewis on email: How were you chosen to cover this event? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: I've been covering science for 10 years and no science journalist would have missed it #AskBBCDavid

Question from @AFCGuy: Can warp speed be achieved as NASA claim? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: @AFCGuy: Nice idea but sadly neither NASA nor anyone else can yet go that fast #AskBBCDavid

Question from @Tmckinnin: since the future is near, is it possible in the near future for time travel. Could it be a reality #askBBCDavid

David answers: @Tmckinnin human and robotic space travel are amazing enough in reality - sci fi ideas of time travel remain v distant #AskBBCDavid

Question from Mugisha Oscar on Facebook: How far away are these stations from points of human settlements? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: No one can get closer than 3 miles from launch. The International Space Station is abt 200 miles above Earth #AskBBCDavid

Question from @JMmelegrito: Will the United States regain its dominance in the so-called Space Race? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: @JMmelegrito: It's the undisputed leader in exploring Mars but China may be next to get boots on the Moon 1/2 #AskBBCDavid

David continues: @JMmelegrito: It comes down to money. NASA's budget is tight. Encouraging commercial operators is a new chapter in space 2/2 #AskBBCDavid

Image caption David Shukman prepares for his live Twitter Q & A

Question from @bestdogadvice: Are there plans to send anyone to Mars soon? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: @bestdogadvice: Lots of talk including from private operators but radiation hazard and cost are dealbreakers for now #AskBBCDavid

Question from @simon_rp84: What do you think will be the biggest advance in space travel/research in the next ten years? #askBBCDavid

David answers: @simon_rp84 Getting private operators like #spacex involved with new rockets and new ideas to make space travel cheaper #AskBBCDavid

Question from Michael Mayes on Facebook: Do you think the International Space Station will become an International Space Ship for the fortunate few ?

David answers: It serves as international outpost with astronauts from different countries. Space travel is elite activity because of cost #AskDavidBBC

Question from@JMmelegrito: What should be the driving force or main reason by countries or governments to have a "space program?" #AskBBCDavid

David answers @JMmelegrito: Worst reason is vanity but satellites give weather news, TV, GPS, gravity-free research so lots of positives. #AskBBCDavid

Question from @zhukov43: how soon is science away from proving wormholes exist, and where is the closest to earth likely to be? #AskBBCDavid

David answers: @zhukov43: Sorry to disappoint but wormholes are entirely theoretical and no one has yet found one #AskBBCDavid

Question from @EveAbe: Any chance the person(s) would retrieve the Mars rovers #ASKBBCDavid

David answers @EveAbe: Amazing idea - people feel emotional about them - but huge effort needed and little scientific point #AskBBCDavid

Question from @LewDaney: Do you foresee any other space-based activity in the near future, especially one with a practical purpose? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @LewDaney: Most practical are the satellites that let us navigate, communicate and monitor change #AskBBCDavid

Question from @CAWSW: If we mine the moon, would that affect its mass and thus gravity relationship with Earth? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @CAWSW: It would make too tiny difference to notice - and it's highly unlikely that any Moon mining will start soon #AskBBCDavid

Question from @dinosaurblue: How long until long range spacecraft are constructed completely in orbit? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @dinosaurblue: Great question and makes perfect sense but still big cost hurdle of launching all the parts into orbit #AskBBCDavid

Question from @bestdogadvice: What is happening at the Kennedy Space Centre these days and the vehicle Assembly Building? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @bestdogadvice: Very sad scenes there after last shuttle launch. Focus now on the next spaceship Orion and private launches #AskBBCDavid

Question from @JMmelegrito: Why do some groups already think of Space mining, when they still have no idea the effects of it on Earth? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @JMmelegrito: They reckon they can make money mining asteroids but the risks and the costs are unknown #AskBBCDavid

Question from @bestdogadvice: If you had the opportunity would you go to space? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @bestdogadvice: I'd love to be there for the views we get from @Cmdr_Hadfield in orbit who shares incredible sights #AskBBCDavid

Question from @LewDaney: What would be the impact of an eventual discovery of alien life on the space programmes and their budgets? #ASKBBCDavid

David answers @LewDaney: Think what Chinese boots on the Moon would do for NASA's budget. Aliens would send all space budgets orbital. #ASKBBCDavid

Question from @simon_rp84: Do you have a favourite space-related story that you've reported on? #AskBBCDavid

David answers @simon_rp84: Favourite and painful memory: waiting for Britain's Beagle2 mission to land on Mars on Christmas Day 2003 1/2 #AskBBCDavid

David continues: We waited and listened and no message came. A daring mission to find life on Mars had crashed. 2/2 #AskBBCDavid

David tweets: Thanks for your questions - thought provoking. Sorry I couldn't answer them all. Do follow me for space and science on @davidshukmanbbc

Produced by Susanna Cooper