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NASA Viewers Invited to “Space Out” On New Streaming Platform

By Craig Bamford
Parabolic Arc
November 6, 2023
Filed under ,
NASA Viewers Invited to “Space Out” On New Streaming Platform
NASA+ logo.
Image credit: NASA.

NASA is finally launching their streaming service, “NASA+,” according to recent announcements.

NASA announced back in July that it’ll upgrade the somewhat bare-bones current NASA app to a whole new app with a whole new design for the site, then in beta and now implemented. The new design, according to NASA’s original announcement, centers “a connected topic-driven experience” that includes “integrated access to NASA information” and “online content from a selection of popular agency websites.” It will also include “NASA+,” a free streaming service that will serve as a home to NASA-related video content.

NASA released a trailer that mentions a November 8 release date for NASA+, also announcing that livestreams and at least a few dedicated programs will be released the same day. Some of the programming will be new, while other programs are already available on YouTube or NASA’s website but will find a new home on NASA+

Video credit: NASA.

The already-complete new website gives an indicator of the kind of content that may feature on the App: with a carousel that features “Goodbye to Asteroid Autumn,” Mission Updates on the Commercial Crew Program, information on SpaceX’s coming resupply mission, as well as the latest issue of their near-future webcomic First Woman, about the adventures of the first woman on the Moon.  

Each of these includes related links on science and technology, and the main page also includes both NASA news stories and high-resolution “Images of the Day.” Today’s image (November 6) was an ultraviolet view of Jupiter from the Hubble Space Telescope that drastically changes the planet’s coloration to bands of blue and purple. 

NASA has announced several of the new shows that will appear on NASA+. In the vein of that slightly-psychedelic Jupiter image, a NASA post on social media included a trailer for their new show “Space Out,” which invites viewers to “turn on, tune in, and space out” to a mix of “relaxing music and ultra-high-definition visuals of the cosmos.”  It promises, they said, “a relaxing tour of our universe.” 

They’re also running several educational animated series. “The Traveler” features a little alien who’s looking to do some space exploration—one who’s more than a little reminiscent of the famously space-obsessed Kerbals from Kerbal Space Program, and with an animation style also reminiscent of classic cartoons from the 1950s and ‘60s. 

In a similar vein—with a similar look—NASA will be running a series of short cartoons about “Lucy’s Journey,” a featuring “plucky” animated version of the Lucy spacecraft that began sending back imagery of asteroids earlier this month, and which will continue to send them back for the next decade. The Lucy cartoons were already available as a playlist on YouTube.

There’s also some live-action series about current missions. One, called “Other Worlds,” is about the James Webb Space Telescope. Another, called “NASA Explorers,” features “a team of scientists and engineers [who] set out to gather and return America’s first asteroid sample collected in space,” according to the show’s description on YouTube.

Programming aside, NASA has not specified whether its app update will also go live on November 8. Nor is it clear how users will be able to access NASA+, and whether its content will be exclusive or if it will also be available through the existing NASA website and YouTube channel. 

Also unclear is whether and how NASA+ will be playable on streaming devices and Smart TVs. Though their App page pointed to availability on the stores for AppleTV, Amazon FireTV, and Roku devices, testing with an Android-based Nvidia Shield streaming device confirmed that the existing NASA app’s availability on Android TV is at least spotty.

Marc Etkin, an associate administrator in NASA’s communications office, said in their July announcement that the goal of the overall transformation is “putting space on demand and at your fingertips,” and that it will “help us better tell the stories of how NASA explores the unknown in air and space, inspires through discovery, and innovates for the benefit of humanity.” Another associate administrator at the same office, Nicky Fox, added that they hope that the new web presence “showcases our discovery programs in an interdisciplinary and crosscutting way.”

Craig Bamford.

Craig is a technology journalist with a strong focus on space-related startups, business, and pop culture. He started working in science & technology media in 2016, and began writing about the Canadian space sector in 2017 for SpaceQ. He is a graduate of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, where he specialized in international conflict analysis and conflict resolution. He lives in Toronto.

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