|Space Shuttle lunchbox from 1980|
Eventually, the mainstream media stopped reporting launches; the public grew bored. Throughout the 1990's and 2000's, NASA had their budget cut. They were forced to focus on smaller, cheaper, unmanned missions.
|Hubble space telescope|
The Internet helped capture the public's interest in space again. Millions downloaded and shared images from Hubble, Pathfinder, and Spirit. But, humanity in space was gone. Now it was machines, cameras and remote sensors exploring space. Most of us were distracted by the news, the economy, the Internet, politics, and television. Space became boring, and nerdy again. More Americans were interested in the outcome of American Idol than a boring space mission millions of miles away.
Luckily, companies like SpaceX are starting to change that perspective. I watched a live launch and landing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket earlier and it was a blast! (*groan* bad pun... sorry.)
|SpaceX webcast site during a live mission|
They have a high-tech interface with a split screen showing live video. They have mission stats, live commentators, timeline explaining the mission, infographics, animations, cool music, and a live audience.
|Infographics and animations|
The live audience is the best part. You can hear them roar with excitement --cheering and clapping-- as various parts of the mission occur. It's a lot of fun. It brings back the excitement of watching Space Shuttle launches on live television.
|Live footage of a space mission from SpaceX|
This is why NASA was cool when I was a kid; they engaged the public. People wanted to learn more about space and how all this amazing technology works. SpaceX is bringing that back.
|Animation explaining the orbit of a satellite|
Live stream: www.spacex.com/webcast (available during missions)
Archive of today's launch: https://youtu.be/zBYC4f79iXc?t=8m31s
Technical webcast: https://youtu.be/wPYOtCFSLKw?t=8m31s