SpaceX's live webcasts from Mission Control a hit

The informative and entertaining live streams draw nerds and common folk alike

SAN FRANCISCO • First, Mr Elon Musk's SpaceX disrupted the aerospace industry with rockets that were designed to be reused.

Now, the company is turning heads with its Internet live streams. SpaceX's live launch webcasts from the company's Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, are becoming must-watch events for space nerds and common folk alike.

The events are an equally informative and entertaining crash course in Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) topics with a heavy dose of rocket propulsion and flip manoeuvres thrown in. 

Each time the company launches a rocket, young SpaceX employees and engineers take turns as enthusiastic, funny hosts.

Not sure what a faring is? Curious about the white smoke that's "totally normal"? Need to bone up on the difference between low-earth and geostationary orbits? They've got you. 

The webcasts began in late December with the Orbcomm-2 mission when SpaceX launched Falcon 9 and successfully landed the rocket's first stage - on land - for the first time.

The 45-minute webcast featured a mix of pre-produced segments, slick graphic design and live shots. There was even a cameo appearance by Wait But Why's Tim Urban.

The palpable excitement emanating from within SpaceX is part of what makes the webcasts so engaging for so many people. 

In April, when Falcon 9 nailed its first droneship landing, the webcast hosts could barely contain their enthusiasm. Ms Kate Tice, a process improvement engineer, was so elated that she told roughly 80,000 viewers: "My face hurts so much right now, I can't believe it." 

The 36-minute webcast that included the first droneship landing has been viewed 1.53 million times on YouTube. A separate clip featuring a 360-degree view of that landing got more than 1.9 million views.

Mr Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 to "revolutionise space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets".

Part of that effort involves capturing the public's imagination and educating a new generation about what it will take to get there.

"Becoming a multi-planet species is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, " said SpaceX spokesman Dex Torricke-Barton in an e-mail. "Educating and engaging more people about space will help us to make faster progress."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'SpaceX's live webcasts from Mission Control a hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe