posted July 11, 2005 06:25 PM
More than two years after the Columbia tragedy, NASA is ready to fly again with Space Shuttle Discovery, and America Online is inviting online users to take a virtual ride with the shuttle into space, via multiple, uninterrupted, simultaneous live streams of the historic launch. In addition, AOL has created an in-depth site that provides a rich source of background information on preparations for this launch, reports from an on-site blogger, picture and video galleries, news links and much more.
Starting at noon on July 13, AOL(R) News will offer live, uninterrupted, streaming coverage of the countdown to the launch. Coverage will begin as astronauts leave for the pad and continue until three minutes after liftoff. During the launch, users will be able to view multiple simultaneous streams of the launch at one time - a "beach tracker" view, a long-range view, a view from below the engines and a view from a camera mounted on the external tank that will transmit images until the shuttle's solid rocket boosters are jettisoned.
"By offering multiple live simultaneous video streams of the shuttle launch, we are providing an interactive experience for users, letting them decide how they want to watch NASA's highly anticipated return to space," said Lewis D'Vorkin, Vice President, Editor-in-Chief, AOL News & Sports. "No other online news site can match the interactive, live, unfiltered and on-demand video coverage we are providing through the AOL.com portal."
"AOL helped us cover the X Prize in a way we couldn't have done on our own. We were extremely pleased with the on-demand multi-angle player. We'll be eager to see how they cover the Space Shuttle," said Bob Weiss, Vice Chairman of the X Prize Foundation.
The countdown on the AOL (R) service begins July 11 with in-depth features leading up to the launch, including a mission profile, reports from an on-site blogger, and two exclusive packages made for AOL by National Geographic: the history of the shuttle and the history of spacewalks. Other features include: a photo gallery of space missions, a SkyWatch feature that will tell users how to spot the shuttle when it is in orbit, access to the latest headlines about the mission, a mission Alerts feature, quizzes, and much more.
The Space Shuttle Discovery launch is an extension of AOL's commitment to broadcasting online, live historic events: from the Live 8 concerts, which drew an audience of 5 million over the course of the day, to the Pope's election and President Reagan's funeral. AOL pioneered live and interactive coverage of news events with its Press Pass technology during the 2004 Election, including record breaking coverage of the political conventions, presidential debates and Election Day results. In October 2004, AOL gave users an exclusive view into SpaceShipOne's winning X Prize mission, offering streams of the space flight from six angles, including the cockpit, the exterior and mission control. (To see on-demand streams of that space flight, go here.)
To see AOL's comprehensive coverage of the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, go to the AOL.com portal or http://space.aol.com