The space program and communications technology have taken countless small steps since the black-and-white television broadcast of the 1969 moon landing. Both will be on full display when NASA utilizes IBM Cloud Video and Ustream to broadcast a live stream of its latest space mission on Thursday.
The partnership allows NASA to share the view of Earth from the International Space Station (ISS), provide a way to interact with astronauts, and invite the public into the control room as the Curiosity Rover arrived on Mars.
Thursday’s mission will carry the Expedition 50-51 crew of three astronauts from Kazakhstan to the ISS, with launch scheduled for 3:20 EST Thursday.
NASA began live-streaming missions in 2004, and began working with Ustream in 2009. In early 2013 NASA’s broadcast of the asteroid DA-14’s near-Earth fly-by drew a peak audience of 1.4 million live stream viewers, and the partnership now enables live daily feeds from the ISS along with related commentary.
To date, NASA has created over 50 Ustream channels working with IBM Cloud Video, from which live and previously recorded programming is available around the clock.
“NASA depends on public support and awareness,” NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications Bob Jacobs said in a blog post. “Thanks to streaming technology, space enthusiasts the world over can still gather around a screen to watch an astronaut’s journey, but now that screen can be on a computer, a smartphone and a wide variety of other devices. NASA’s partnership with Ustream has enabled us to bring space out of the clouds and down to Earth.”
NASA has been significantly involved in the development of leading networking technologies, including co-founding OpenStack with Rackspace, but has also had challenges with its own cloud implementation.