The U.S. agency dedicated to pushing the boundaries of space exploration is finally exploring the barest edges of the modern livestreaming era. On Thursday, NASA announced it’s launching a beta for on-demand streaming content through NASA+. Oh, and if you couldn’t already guess, that “+” in the logo is shaped like a little twinkling star.
The agency didn’t put an exact date on launch, but said it should be coming “later this year.” To start, the new ad-free streaming service will be available on NASA’s beta site and on an upgraded NASA app. The new web page is supposed to front load the topical space news of the day such as information about the Artemis program. The agency promises to promote content from across its different web services and add new features to its science-focused site.
Whenever it comes, NASA promised this new streaming service won’t require a paid subscription, and it should be available on both iOS and Android. The app should also be integrated with streaming players like Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV. As NASA communications administrator Marc Etkind said in the press release, the space agency is “putting space on demand at your fingertips.”
NASA even has a slick new video advertising its streaming service. The ad suggests that a wide range of the agency’s public content will be accessible on the new platform, including kids-based learning content and other documentaries.
NASA currently uses NASA TV for most of its public education video content and rocket launch livestreams. The agency keeps a 24/7 slate of cable-like content running on both the NASA site and YouTube. The current broadcast has been running live continuously on YouTube since 2018. Much of this content includes reruns of talking heads describing their work at NASA or at companies like Lockheed Martin. There are other features available online like livestreams from the ISS and launch coverage.
So much of the current system feels antiquated. NASA even shares its own kind of daily TV guides for what’s coming up next on its TV stream. The agency recognized how old hat this is and the need for the space connoisseurs or even the space-curious to select what content they want to watch.
“Modernizing our main websites from a technology standpoint and streamlining how the public engages with our content online are critical first steps in making our agency’s information more accessible, discoverable, and secure,” said NASA chief information officer Jeff Seaton.
It’ll kinda be like Netflix, but for space content, and that’s a good thing—so long as the UI holds to a modern standard. NASA TV does run through several social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and it is available on some third-party platforms like Hulu, Roku, and Pluto TV. It’s also available through older means on DirectTV and DISH Network. NASA is still promoting broadband access on Google Fiber despite how that service has been defunct for years in many locations.