Monday, November 1, 2010

Space Television


I had planned to discuss the final launch of Shuttle Discovery today, of course, but the launch has been postponed two days running. Not unusual, and weather may not cooperate once the technical issues are solved. SSDD, as they say! Shuttle Countdown 101 is due to begin soon, however, so stay tuned!

Shuttle Launch
I'd hate to be the one
who has to change this sign...

So, while Discovery undergoes checks and repairs, I thought I'd mention all the ways one might watch the last shuttle launches... and that turned into a marathon of research about all available space television. (And by the way, WHY is there no general Space Channel?)

I've mentioned TWIS many times, and almost everyone I know keeps up with their episodes, though unfortunately host Miles O'Brien and his producer David Waters announced that this labor of space love provided no real revenue stream, so they are now on hiatus. What a terrible loss! Though even without the video streams, one can keep track of launches at their Space Flight Now tracking page.

For those undergoing withdrawal, here are some other space programming resources!

"Making Space Commonplace": Space news and social media covering all things space flight, space news, space shuttle, NASA, ESA and more!

ESA Television
European Space Agency programming, and broadcast schedule.

Astronomy & space exploration news as they happen. Click the "LIVE" tab.

SpaceLaunch News
Aerospace Journalist Charles Atkeison gives complete multimedia coverage of World space launches & missions from Cape Canaveral.

NASA Television
NASA Television (NTV) is a resource designed to provide real-time coverage of agency activities and missions, and their programming schedule is posted daily.

NASA Television
I am a huge fan of NASA TV because you can watch it just about anywhere, and I tend to leave it on for hours and hours and hours. I keep wondering when they will cave, and turn to quick-cut editing and celebrities, but so far, the science and behind-the-scenes reality has remained prominent.

I remember reading an article quite awhile ago where a journalist declared… Ground Control to NASA TV: Liven Up! He began by saying that "typical shows feature live coverage of space-station activity, shuttle launches, news conferences, wrap-ups of space news, and educational programs about such topics as asteroids..." He bemoaned the stretches of silence and tried to make us think these programs were somehow bad things.

Sorry, but with every other available channel catering to the lowest common denominator of target demographics, I'll take this broadcasting gem anytime.

FACT: NASA TV was founded as "NASA Select" in 1981 to provide mission coverage for NASA's internal personnel, not for public consumption. The fact that we can tune in anytime to see what's going on is truly icing on the agency cake. There are no advertisements, and no scandalous clawing at "edgy" plot lines to gain viewers because NASA genuinely does not care how many or who watches their programming – they do not even bother to harvest Nielsen ratings data.

Will they change someday, to be glossier, faster, more chic? It appears some people hope so, butt I say give the money to the Mars program and leave NASA TV the way it is!