Networks look to the sky with Blue Origin launch coverage

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The major broadcast and cable news networks all carried live coverage of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos‘ flight into space through his commercial aerospace company Blue Origin.

Bezos’ trip marked the second trip of this type in just over a week — with Richard Branson traveling to space July 11, 2021, aboard a craft created by his company Virgin Galactic.

Branson’s trip was moved up, apparently in an effort to beat Bezos into space, but also meant that it ended up taking place on a Sunday. Bezos had the advantage of having his flight scheduled when the big three networks were already on air with their morning news programs in the eastern and central time zones.

Both journeys are notable steps forward toward commercial space tourism, which could launch to the general (very wealthy) public as early as 2022. 

Here’s how the networks kicked off their coverage of the Blue Origin launch:

CBS News used the banner “Launch Into Space” with Gayle King anchoring near the launch site in Texas and Norah O’Donnell is Washington, D.C. The network prepared a special open that included CBS elements and outlines along with a blue and white color scheme.

ABC News produced one of the extended, dramatic opens with a female voiceover that it’s become known for and branded its coverage under the name “Civilians in Space.” A special open was created as well, ending with an extruded “long shadow” effect providing a “window” through which an image of Earth’s horizon could be seen. Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos anchored coverage from the network’s Times Square studio with Michael Strahan on the ground in Texas.

The open used a short clip of The Girl and the Dreamcatcher’s “Glowing in the Dark” song that has been used for the network’s coverage of Mars and SpaceX missions and eclipse coverage in the past.


NBC News had a short open with “Blue Origin: First Human in Space” as its title — complete with a logo that could have been right out of a science fiction TV show or movie. Craig Melvin anchored from Studio 1A in New York.

Over on sister network MSNBC, a similar open was used, but with a more orchestral musical bed that would have fit right into a space film. Hallie Jackson anchored from the network’s Studio N5 in Washington, sitting in front of a video wall graphic that incorporated a variety of space themed imagery and the Blue Origin logo.

CNN had Anderson Cooper on hand to cover the launch from Texas under the simple name “Space Flight” that used a dramatic photo of a rocket launch path against a starry sky.

Fox used the title “Bezos Blue Origin Launch” for its coverage and incorporated an Earth from space look into the “sliver” at the bottom of the screen. Coverage was wrapped into both “Fox & Friends” and “America’s Newsroom.”

All of the networks relied heavily on the video feeds provided by Blue Origin, which included branding elements, mission stage indicators and realtime data such as craft speed and altitude. The feed appeared to suffer from audio issues during a significant portion of the flight, with mostly garbled conversations presumably between the civilian crew and mission control heard and, at times, complete silence.

Like with all space missions, audio and video transmission can be a challenge and the networks were advised of the possibility of technical glitches for both Bezos’ and Branson’s flights but most appeared to simply allow the provided audio play out as is instead of trying to inject their own commentary. 

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