NASA makes history next week with the first live broadcasts from space in High Definition television (HDTV). NASA, in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Discovery HD Theater and Japanese broadcast network NHK will produce the broadcasts on Nov. 15.
Two live HDTV broadcasts will feature Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria on the International Space Station, with Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter serving as camera operator aboard the 220-mile-high laboratory. The broadcasts will be carried by Discovery HD Theater and NHK. Discovery HD Theater will carry the special broadcast live at 10:30 a.m. CST and will be shown at Discovery Channel stores.
"HDTV provides up to six times the resolution of regular analog video," said Rodney Grubbs, NASA principal investigator. "On previous missions, we've flown HDTV cameras but had to wait until after the mission to retrieve the tapes, watch the video and share it with the science and engineering community, the media and the public. For the first time ever, this test lets us stream live HDTV from space so the public can experience what its like to be there."
Known as the Space Video Gateway, the system transmits high bandwidth digital television signals to the ground that are not only spectacular, but also valuable to scientists, engineers and managers.
NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, along with both NHK and Discovery, are cooperating in this effort though a Space Act Agreement originally signed in 2002.
The equipment to record and downlink HDTV signals was delivered to the station by the Space Shuttle Atlantis crew in September. It includes a commercially manufactured camcorder, viewfinder, lenses and power cables, an HDTV signal decoder, processor and hard drive, and power and data cables.