As seen from space: 'A little bit of the view astronauts have'
We're one step closer to ordering up a custom video taken from space, after the B.C. company that’s installed commercial cameras aboard the orbiting International Space Station shared its first high-definition videos of Earth as seen from what has been, until now, astronauts' exclusive perspective.
UrtheCast Corp., based in Vancouver, has released its first three video clips, featuring views of Boston, London, and Barcelona from the ISS.
The videos, ranging from 34 to 47 seconds long, highlight landmarks, businesses and even vehicles.
"(We're) giving a little bit of the view astronauts have and opening it up for the rest of us," CEO Scott Larson told CTV Vancouver.
The company’s two cameras, which were installed aboard ISS in early 2014, cost $17 million dollars each.
One camera takes photos of anything five metres or bigger - such as buildings, fields or farms – and the other shoots video showing objects as small as one metre.
Unlike the static images many have come to enjoy perusing on Google Maps, Larson says, UrtheCast’s live video feed is always updating as the space station orbits Earth about 16 times a day.
Viewers can head to the company’s website to view a live stream of the Earth, 24 hours a day. However, if the space station is on the night side of the planet, the screen will appear black.
"This is for governments who want to monitor forestry, farming, deforestation. We've signed agreements with groups like the United Nations to monitor social issues, natural resource issues and so forth," said Larson.
He also dismissed concerns that the videos or live feed could be used for spying, saying the company’s goal is purely commercial.
The majority of the company’s work will be done with government groups, with Urthecast recently inking an $85 million contract for the next several years, he added.
Later this summer, UrtheCast plans on opening up its streaming service to the public allowing people to record their wedding proposals or flash mobs from space.
Users will be able to enter in their address to receive a countdown of when the International Space Station will next be overhead, allowing a chance to arrange a scene worth recording from space.
The videos will all be uploaded on the company’s website and users will be able to download the video and edit as they wish.
The company plans to add two more cameras on the American side of the space station in late-2017.
With files from CTV Vancouver.