SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

Hill Air Force Base wins Webby Award in collaboration with NASA

May 1, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:37 pm

In the process of retrieving the prize of an ambitious space mission, a joint team from NASA and th...

FILE: The west gate to Hill Air Force Base is pictured on Thursday, March 5, 2020. In the process of retrieving the prize of an ambitious space mission, a joint team from NASA and the US Air Force took home another prize. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah – In the process of retrieving the prize of an ambitious space mission, a joint team from NASA and the US Air Force took home another prize — a Webby Award.

Back in 2016, NASA launched the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft in a mission to collect material from a near-Earth asteroid. OSIRIS-Rex traveled 1.2 billion miles to survey and sample from the asteroid named Bennu. It then returned to Earth with those samples. OSIRIS-Rex finally touched down on September 24, 2023.

“This is the largest sample collected from something beyond the moon,” said Dr. Melissa Morris, program executive for OSIRIS-Rex.

Related: NASA reveals first glimpse inside capsule that landed in Utah

Broadcasting a spacecraft landing

The Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base was the landing site for the mission. But a spot to land was not the only thing the partnership had in mind.

NASA teamed up with the USAF’s 2nd Audiovisual Squadron (AVS) to broadcast the landing live in 4k. 

“Our entire team was invested in the success of the OSIRIS-Rex broadcast.” said Lt. Col. Mark Graff, 2nd AVS commander.

The broadcast was a massive endeavor, involving 26 live audio and video feeds, 70 prerecorded interviews and graphics, and a team of 52 people spread across the landing zone to capture the historic event. The team deployed cameras on the ground, in flight, and even from space.

The size of the landing area, while a great benefit for the mission, presented many challenges for the broadcast team.

“Returning a capsule safely to Earth containing material collected from a 4-billion-year-old asteroid is daunting.” said Michael Moreau, deputy project manager for OSIRIS-Rex, “Brining the public along for the landing and recovery was extraordinary.”

The livestream lasted 195 minutes and brought live coverage to millions across social media, television, and other outlets. 

Related: NASA overcomes months-long hurdle in accessing OSIRIS-REx asteroid material that landed in Utah

Awards and honors

For their achievement, the team earned a Webby Award in the Video – Events and Live Streams category.

The Webby Award was established in 1996, and is administered by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Called “The internet’s highest honor” by the New York Times, The Webbys honors excellence in web-based content from around the world. 

“This is a true team win,” Graff said, “and I’m grateful to NASA for the opportunity and to each of the squadron’s Airman and civilians for their efforts to demonstrate the Air Force’s flexibility to deliver in any situation,”

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Hill Air Force Base wins Webby Award in collaboration with NASA