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How to STAGE... a Space Launch!

Updated: May 5

Stage... Sound... Lights...Launch! Behind the scenes on the aXisPro Stage w/ NASA TV.

First off, before launching right into this Mobile Stage promotion, let's clarify, no one at aXisPro Events is a rocket scientist... although a couple of the guys are really good with intelligent lighting consoles, as well as soundchecking a double kick drum on the fly. Although we considered staying at the Holiday Inn Express on I-95 in Titusville, we do not profess to have any knowledge in the actual launch process. However, we were contacted to support the NASA TV team with the aXisPro Stageline SL100 (2018 model) for their outdoor live studio broadcast of the Space X Crew-2 launch at Kennedy Space Center on Friday, April 23rd.

The aXisPro Stageline SL100 w/ Additional Decking and Lighting in the shadows of the VAB.
The aXisPro Stageline SL100 Mobile Stage w/ Additional Decking and Lighting in the shadows of the VAB.

Chris Swanson, the Communications Systems & Imagery Engineer at NASA, requested the 2018 version of the Stageline SL100 to act as the studio platform for the live television feed leading up to the launch. The 3 hour broadcast featured interviews with Space X engineers and veteran astronauts from the Space Shuttle program among others. In order to provide the proper roof and floor heights, displaying the newsroom set, as well as the picturesque launch pad and Countdown clock in the background, they needed the newest version of Stageline's most popular Mobile Stage. With one of the few in the Southeast US residing in the aXisPro portfolio, we were called on to provide the Stage w/ additional components, including extended upstage and downstage decking as well as programmable lighting rated for longterm outdoor use.

The aXisPro team spending some time on the Stageline SL100 prior to sunset and the Live TV Lighting Check.
The aXisPro team spending some time on the Stageline SL100 prior to sunset and the Live TV Lighting Check.

One of the key assets of the Stageline models is the ability to expand upstage and downstage with interlocking connections for a safe and secure extended footprint. This was mandatory for the live shoot, as the Television crew needed the additional 4 feet of depth upstage for the 4 camera tripods in order to obtain enough depth to guarantee a range of shots. Then on the opposite side, compliance made the additional 4 feet of decking downstage necessary so that the talent would have a safe distance behind the desk for any movement during the broadcast. The stage schematic would also include A/C vents for air flow and to keep the mosquito population at on the run during the overnight and early morning shoots.

The aXisPro team with Lighting Designer Tim Schuler far right, sitting in for the NASA TV Broadcast crew during the Lighting Check.
The aXisPro team with Lighting Designer Tim Schuler, sitting in for the NASA TV crew during the Lighting Check.

Included in the two week plus installation were multiple rehearsals for the broadcast team, offering the opportunity to dial in the LED lighting grid. Considering that the shoot was being broadcast Internationally via the newest in 4k technology, the lighting had to be flawless, to provide a clean wash absent of any shadows or glares. Lead aXisPro Lighting Designer, and local Titusville High School/UCF grad, Tim Schuler took on the challenge.



Utilizing the SL100 upstage portable fly bar, rated for 1200lb, we centered an 8 LED wash from a safe distance, without having to go all the way to the far upstage truss on the back wing, risking shadows via the crew and tv cameras. One of the two middle truss made for a perfect midway point to place 2 LEDs to the far left and right for cross wash. Then the Downstage truss covered the overhead wash with 3 LEDs combatting any shadowy hairlines.

NASA TV going live on the aXisPro Stageline SL100 the morning of the Space X Crew-2 Dragon Launch.
NASA TV going live on the aXisPro Stageline SL100 the morning of the Space X Crew-2 Dragon Launch.

The launch was scheduled for early morning on that Friday, with a launch time of 5:49am, so the crew was asked to arrive at roughly 1:30am in order to do one final lighting and maintenance check before the broadcast team and talent took the stage. Included in the team, Sal Seda, Army veteran and former Aviation Engineer, and aXisPro Stage tech, was on hand to check all hydraulics and joints, after nearly two weeks of salt water exposure. Of course, this also gave the crew time to caffeine up for the sights and sounds of the launch just outside the 3 mile blast radius.

The stage and lighting served as the ideal outdoor platform for the Broadcast team, with overhead coverage for weather, and built in trussing for lighting. The two stair systems allowed for talent access and and camera crew access to both have space and entry/exit without obstructing camera angles. The aXisPro Stageline SL100 is now launch tested and approved, for any regional or national broadcast crews looking for a safe, secure and comfortable production facility for upcoming Space X launches.

For more information on the aXisPro Stageline SL100, with additional decking, stairs, ramps and broadcast sensitive lighting components, feel free to check out www.aXisProEvents.com and contact Rick at rwheeler@axisproevents.com or call 407.230.1265. We may not be rocket scientists, or rock stars, but we definitely know hot to make your rocket launch or rock show look great!

Check out the live countdown and launch of the Space X Crew Dragon en route to the International Space Station on Friday, April 23rd, with the aXisPro Stageline SL100 providing the NASA TV live broadcast platform for the launch coverage.