- Actor Will Smith hosted the first Instagram Live chat on Thursday with an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) for National Geographic Channel's docu-series "One Strange Rock." Smith phoned Drew Feustel to talk about space, music and other topics for Instagram Live viewers to follow in real time, according to a press release. The footage was also made available for those who couldn't watch live.
- Feustel is part of the six-person Expedition 55 to the ISS, which started in February and ends this month. Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky and producer Jane Root created the 10-part "One Strange Rock" series that explores how life developed on Earth. The series from Nutopia and Protozoa Pictures was filmed in 45 countries and, now, space.
- The series features eight astronauts as principal storytellers, covering topics such as the history of Earth's geology, atmosphere and biology. Aronofsky trained astronaut Paolo Nespoli on how to create exclusive footage from the ISS.
National Geographic, which already has several social media wins on Facebook Watch and Snapchat, continues to extend it reach to younger audiences with interesting content delivered where they are spending time. Instagram Live marks another milestone by hosting the first social media chat with an astronaut stationed at the ISS. Instagram has about 800 million followers worldwide, making it a smart platform for a live chat with those at space station, whose crew includes astronauts from the U.S., Russia and Japan.
Smith's talk with Feustel aimed to be an entertaining conversation covering what life is like in orbit, such as the effects of weightlessness on the human body and the "overview effect" that many astronauts experience when seeing Earth from space. Smith also had some practical questions like: "How do you poop?" and "What does it smell like in the International Space Station?" Aside from the conversation itself, the call likely aimed to generate some intrigue and excitement around the first live chat to space through a social media platform.
This isn't the first time Instagram has caused buzz around making space-related headlines. U.S. astronaut Steven Swanson made history in 2014 by posting the first selfie on Instagram from the ISS, per CBS News. That followed the first tweet from space in 2009 by Mike Massimino. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield posted a YouTube video of himself singing David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in 2013 that went viral with about 40 million views.