Press Release

NASA Sets Agency Online Web Stream Record During Shuttle Launch

By SpaceRef Editor
July 27, 2005
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NASA Sets Agency Online Web Stream Record During Shuttle Launch

NASA’s Space Shuttle Return to Flight (STS-114) launch was one of the biggest events in Internet history. Internet users watched approximately 433,000 simultaneous webcast streams of NASA TV during the launch.

The webcast nearly quadrupled the agency record set barely three weeks ago during Deep Impact’s encounter with Comet Tempel 1. Preliminary data shows Yahoo! and Akamai Technologies, which are streaming NASA TV during the STS-114 mission, peaked at nearly 433,000 around launch time.

In comparison, NASA sent out 118,000 webcast streams for the Deep Impact mission on July 4 and just under 50,000 for the Mars Exploration Rover landings in January 2004. Yahoo! sent out about 335,000 Windows Media streams, with Akamai sending the remainder in RealMedia format.

“We’ve always known there was tremendous global interest in the U.S. space program, and this Web traffic confirms it,” said David Mould, NASA’s assistant administrator for public affairs. “It’s gratifying to know that as we open this new chapter in exploration, the public worldwide will be following it.”

Under separate Space Act Agreements, Yahoo! and Akamai are making NASA’s Web content available to Internet users for this mission and STS-121, NASA’s second Return to Flight mission.

NASA’s agreement with Yahoo! is one of the agency’s first online media partnerships. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! is providing a co-branded Windows Media Player streaming the mission’s official online video on the Web sites of both NASA and Yahoo! Akamai’s agreement with NASA builds on its existing role as the content-delivery provider for the agency’s Web portal. Akamai has agreed to expand the portal’s available bandwidth by more than 30 times.

“By streaming more than 335,000 simultaneous live video feeds, Yahoo! played a key role in creating NASA’s most successful online event,” said Scott Moore, vice president of content operations, Yahoo!. “We wanted to put the power of the Yahoo! network behind the Space Shuttle’s Return to Flight, and the results of today’s event highlight an extremely successful partnership.”

“We are excited to work collectively with NASA and Yahoo! to bring this historic event to Internet viewers around the world,” said Keith E. Johnson, vice president of public sector, Akamai Technologies, Inc. “The massive surge in Web traffic triggered by the Return to Flight mission underscores how the Internet has become the primary choice of instant news delivery for a growing number of people.”

“We could not have done this without our agreements with Yahoo! and Akamai,” said William Readdy, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations. “This audience far exceeded our expectations and would have overwhelmed our previous capabilities.”

Whether the launch was the most viewed event in the Internet’s history is an open question. Statistics on such events generally are held as proprietary by their owners.

As the Space Shuttle was launching, NASA was sending out data at a rate of more than 50 gigabits per second. For comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope takes about two days to collect that much data. The data rate more than tripled Deep Impact’s record of 13 gigabits per second.

The NASA Web portal is managed jointly by the Office of Public Affairs and the Chief Information Officer. eTouch Systems of Freemont, Calif., is the portal’s prime contractor. The portal is hosted by VeriCenter of Houston.

For more information about the STS-114 mission on the Web, visit:

For more information about Yahoo! visit:

For more information about Akamai, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.