A quirky habit of German insomniacs and "chill-out" music fans has come to world attention thanks to the U.S. government shutdown.
"Space Night," a nearly 20-year-old late-night broadcast by Bavarian Television, provides a music-sharing platform against a backdrop of NASA's video feed from the International Space Station.
But the 15-day-old U.S. government shutdown has idled the NASA archivists responsible for relaying the imagery beyond Mission Control, cutting off fresh backdrops to mix with the music for "Space Night" broadcasts that were to have launched a new season Nov. 1.
NASA archivists were put on unpaid leave at the start of October, when 700,000 government workers whose jobs weren't deemed essential to defense and security were furloughed until the contentious U.S. Congress passes a budget for the new fiscal year.
"Fans of Bavarian Television's 'Space Night' are going to have to wait a little longer for the new programming," Der Spiegel magazine reported Tuesday (link in German).
The nightly broadcasts feature viewer-uploaded recordings of "chill-out" music, a genre that gained popularity among ravers in the 1990s as a means of calming down after all-night wild parties.
Bavarian Television, in exchange for amateur musicians' renunciation of exclusive rights to their creations, make the music available for downloading and identify the contributing artist against the background of NASA footage from outer space.
The Munich-based broadcaster hasn't disclosed figures on "Space Night" audience share. Other German media describe the program as popular with a devoted cult following.
If the U.S. budget standoff goes on much longer, the German programmers could always go back to the original imagery used as background for the music: the station's 1960s-era test pattern.