NASA seeks to preserve, and make readily accessible, historical Space Shuttle launch footage to inspire and educate NASA stakeholders both in and outside the NASA family through the dissemination of the Ascent production materials as a DVD, and through both NASA Television and online social media avenues without incurring distribution and media costs.

“Ascent - Commemorating Shuttle” is a NASA technical and documentary film record comprised of engineering footage from Space Shuttle launches. The production uniquely serves as a NASA technical, historical, and public outreach document. Various elements of the completed Ascent project were distributed as a professionally produced DVD, on NASA Television, and viewed by millions as streaming video through YouTube.

The Ascent compilation represents the best shuttle film and high-definition video acquired during the program. As part of the Ascent DVD, viewers can choose from three separate commentary tracks to listen to shuttle engineers, launch trackers, and members of the post-launch film analysis team detail the different technical aspects of the film subject matter. These highly engaging and informative interviews, combined with the film, represent perhaps NASA’s only official visual and oral record documenting the complex architecture and the men and women who made shuttle launch photography possible. The project took extensive advantage of both traditional and contemporary methods to reach not only a national, but a global audience for little or no cost to the Agency. Contributing to the success of “boosters” was a collaboration between the Ascent project team and engineers at Skywalker Sound, who mastered a 5.1 Surround Sound audio track for the DVD production — possibly another first for a NASA production.

The production has demonstrated itself not only to be a technical record, but to also serve as an inspirational, motivational, and educational tool. The value and significance of this is perhaps best measured by viewing statistics and feedback comments on the social media sites. Nearly two years after the shuttle program ended, the Ascent project team still receives a steady stream of inquiries about the film.

As a permanent historical record in NASA’s video archive, the ascent DVD will provide an easily accessible document of shuttle launch footage capturing the knowledge and lessons of the Space Shuttle and its launch imagery system for future generations.

This work was done by Matt Melis of Glenn Research Center; and Gerald Nolan, Eric Mindek, Hugh Aylward, and Jim Firak of Wyle Information Systems.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-19059-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2014 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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