MONTREAL – A Vancouver-based company says it should be ready to take videos of big outdoor events on Earth from the International Space Station and put them on the Internet by the end of the year.
Scott Larson, the CEO of Urthecast, says two space cameras — one that shoots photos, the other video — will be sent up to the station on Oct. 16 on board a Russian spacecraft.
The cameras will be installed on the outside of the football-field-sized station at the end of October and are expected to start rolling a few months later once tests are completed.
“Around the last couple of weeks of December or the first couple of weeks of January is when we’ll be able to officially turn stuff on and start showing all the streaming images,” Larson told The Canadian Press.
He said there will be about a one-hour delay before the images taken by the space station cameras show up on Urthecast’s website, but there will be lots to feast on.
“Anything that’s one metre big is what you’ll be able to see,” he said. “You’ll see if there are 10 people together in white shirts in a green field.
“If we decide there’s something over a downtown that we want to see, we can point the video camera, hold it for about 90 seconds and then it goes on to the next target.”
The cameras will be able to show flash mobs, outdoor events, stadiums, boats and planes, but Larson added that images like people’s faces and licence plates will be too small to be visible.
The Urthecast executive also said people will be able to find out in advance when the space station and its cameras will be flying over their area.
“You will find out that the space station is going to be over you in five hours,” Larson said. “You can begin to co-ordinate your events around when you will be imaged in space.”
But Larson also pointed out that the space cameras would not be used just for fun and games.
The images, he said, would also be useful for observing the Earth’s environment and for covering major news events like last year’s Arab Spring.
“I think media will mainly be driven based on events on account of breaking news,” Larson said, adding that Urthecast is already involved in such discussions.
The giant space laboratory orbits the Earth about 16 times a day, but if it’s on one side of the planet and something happens on the other side, it won’t be picked up by the cameras.
Larson said all the images taken by the cameras can be analyzed to see how rivers and forests have changed over time.
“We signed an agreement with the United Nations,” Larson said. ”They want to use it for crisis monitoring, lots of environmental uses and humanitarian kind of stuff.”
The two cameras will be mounted on the Zvezda service module, the Russian segment of the space station.
The installations will take place during a spacewalk by crew members after the cameras have arrived on board.