Have you discovered NASA live TV?
With Chichester-born astronaut Tim Peake soon to return from space, if you haven’t caught the NASA live feed before then get on it quick – it’s well worth tuning in.
I had the whole thing running in the corner of my computer screen the time Peake stepped out on his space walk, the bleeps and radio exchanges across the many miles making a soothing background to my work. I can’t say I was quite so productive that afternoon – it’s quite a distraction seeing a couple of men dangling about in space in the corner of your vision.
Firstly, there’s the anxiety of it all; I had the opening scenes of Gravity running through my mind. Then there’s the sheer spectacle of seeing your planet from above. Thirdly, I couldn’t believe how fascinating watching a couple of men doing DIY can be if you just change the setting and add a commentary and an undercurrent of peril.
Next time I need to rehang the coat rack I might accidentally have pulled off the wall by hanging too many bags on it <cough>. I’m going to get my husband to give me tense instructions from the cupboard under the stairs
“You need to give the screwdriver four and a half turns to the right for us,”
“OK, Roger that, 1, 2, 3, 4….”
As well as hearing exchanges between the astronauts and mission control, you are provided with a commentary from NASA explaining what’s going on in everyday language. When I tuned in they were changing a faulty part on a unit which steps down the power collected by the solar panels.
The visuals from the astronauts’ helmet cameras are amazingly sharp and during the space walk you got to see them going through short ‘nights’ and ‘days’ as they orbited the earth, switching to torchlight when necessary. I most loved how human it all was. At one point during a lull in proceedings we could see Tim Kopra selecting a picture of his family in the little laminated flick book attached to his wrist and photographing them against the backdrop of outer space.
There’s no more space walking for Peake before his 18 June return but you can still tune in to daily live feeds from the space station with the guys going about various tasks, all explained by the trusty commentator. There will be coverage of a 3D printing project on 16 June and the farewells, hatch closure and undocking when Peake and co depart on 17 and 18 June. Kids will love it and it might just become your favourite waste of time.
Check out NASA TV at nasa.gov
There’s a full schedule here – just remember to translate the times from Eastern to GMT. Coverage of significant events is also repeated later.