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Can Astronauts Watch TV In Space? [Is It Actually Possible?]

Working in outer space generally comes with long shifts and extended periods of time away from comforts back home. But what about television, specifically? Can astronauts watch it? And if so, what can they watch? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know.

So, can astronauts watch TV in space? Thankfully, with the help of modern technology, watching TV in space is easier than ever. With streaming services and the ability to store movies and TV shows as digital files, astronauts have multiple ways to watch TV. Astronauts can use laptops and tablets, and NASA will send films or TV shows to the ISS if the crews send in a request.

Working (and temporarily living) in space can take quite a toll on astronauts over time. 

Thankfully, space agencies do try to provide them with as many recreational items as possible.

TV is one such example, as we shall now continue to explore in the next few sections!

Does TV Work In Space?

Pre-recorded TV does work in space, but live streaming is not currently possible. Due to this, astronauts rely on digital downloads and physical DVDs. 

Considering that the ISS travels at immense speeds, they can’t watch TV in the way we do down on Earth. 

Although they might be able to form an intermittent connection temporarily, this wouldn’t offer a viable solution for the astronauts. 

So it’s digital downloads and physical DVDs – at least for now.

Although it may not offer as vast of a selection as having multiple streaming services at your fingertips, it’s a lot better than what was available just a few decades ago.

Now that various forms of media have become extremely portable, the need for a live TV transmission isn’t really needed.

This is only one aspect of how technology has made a living in outer space a little more comfortable for astronauts. 

They may not be able to watch some TV shows or movies at the same time as everyone else, but astronauts can always put in a request for any title they like.

Do Space Stations Have TV?

Although astronauts don’t have access to live programming, space agencies back home have no problem sending up DVDs or digital files, so they’ll have access to all of the same media that we do. 

Once we entered the digital era, astronauts started getting access to more creature comforts over time. 

Laptops are a common item on the space station, and they also have their own flat-screen TV to enjoy. 

Most of the reason astronauts may not always be up to date with what’s current is because they’re pretty busy most of the time. 

Their job doesn’t offer tons of leisure time, but space agencies are able to give them a connection that doesn’t have much of a delay at all, so they aren’t really missing out on anything if they don’t want to. 

Are Astronauts Allowed To Watch TV In Space?

Astronauts are allowed to watch TV in space, but only during their downtime. That being said, astronauts are actually encouraged to find time for such things as an astronaut’s job can be highly stressful and time-consuming. 

Of course, there are rules and restrictions as there’s a long list of what needs to be done before leisure time, but astronauts have no problem finding time to watch the shows and movies they want.

Depending on what their schedules look like, they may have more downtime during certain periods than others. 

They’re probably not up to date on every new thing in popular media, but they aren’t hindered from watching what they want in any way. 

Since astronauts don’t have tons of free time away from work, each person chooses what to do with their time wisely and may opt for a different activity instead of TV.

What Do Astronauts Watch On TV In Space?

It’s a lot more than you might expect, as astronauts have requested hundreds of titles to be sent to the ISS. From every movie in the Alien franchise to goofy comedies, they have access to classics, trending titles, and everything in between.

Even though astronauts might live a different lifestyles, they understandably have many of the same media interests as we do. 

Among the stockpile of movies and TV shows they have access to, there’s a little bit of everything to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

Better yet, because of their unique situation, they don’t have to deal with any geo-restrictions on media, which means they have access to movies and TV shows all over the world. 

Once again, this is only possible because of how technology has evolved, and astronauts have been enjoying TV on the ISS for quite a few years now.

Here on Earth, most people resort to the various streaming services available, and they only require a decent internet connection to operate. 

Space agencies and the ISS have their own way of transmitting content, as astronauts need to specifically request what they want access to, and NASA will have it arranged for them.

Can Astronauts Watch Netflix In Space?

Astronauts can sometimes watch Netflix in space, but only for limited periods and at certain times (as they don’t always have access to an internet connection down on Earth). Quality is likely to suffer too. As such, Netflix is unlikely to be the first choice, although it may be watched at times.

It has been noted in the past that the ISS can get a connection to the internet on Earth for about fifty minutes to an hour out of each day, which means astronauts can watch Netflix during this time if they choose. 

It has also been noted that the connection isn’t always the greatest, so it’s not very advantageous to use for streaming services most of the time.

Watching movies and TV shows is much easier for astronauts to enjoy if it can be downloaded or shared as a digital file. 

All of the media that’s provided to the ISS comes out of the Johnson Space Center from the DOCS group. 

They’re able to send media content through a variety of methods, one of which is through a shared server that can be accessed by the astronauts and easily downloaded. 

It’s also common for some production copies to provide NASA with advanced copies of movies and TV shows for support and publicity purposes, so astronauts will never run out of choices.


It may not be common knowledge for us here on Earth, but you’d be surprised at the various comforts and entertainment that astronauts have access to. 

They have multiple ways of watching the movies and TV shows they want, and there isn’t really any title they can’t request.

Although they have hours upon hours of content to watch, astronauts spend most of their time working and taking care of their health. 

Outer space is a challenging environment to live and work in, so finding time for TV is a luxury in itself.

Want to learn more about astronauts? Then my other guides may be of interest: