Coming soon: Live HD video from the ISS

Chuck Bednar for – @BednarChuck

The crewmembers onboard the International Space Station have never been shy about sharing their marvelous view of the Earth through social media, but thanks to a Vancouver-based tech firm, people on the ground are about to get around-the-clock coverage of the planet.

Two years ago, UrtheCast installed a pair of cameras on the orbiting laboratory using a Soyuz rocket, and now has announced plans to provide an astronaut’s-eye view of Earth that can be watched 24/7 using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The website goes on to state that the camera’s coverage area will be between 51 degrees and -51 degrees latitude, an area that runs from Chile to England and reportedly represents 90 percent of the planet’s population. UrtheCast will be streaming in ultra HD, providing 60-second videos at a rate of 30 frames per second, and it is free to set up a basic service account.

Service scheduled to launch this summer

On its website, UrtheCast said it is working on what it calls “the world’s first Ultra HD video feed of Earth, streamed from space in full color”. The company explained that both video and still images will be recorded and downlinked to ground stations all over the planet, where the content would be displayed on its web platform to distributed directly to customers.

The experimental system, known as the High-Definition Earth-Viewing System (HDEV), was switched on back on April 30 of last year, and the cameras are mounted on the ESA’s Columbus module’s External Payload Facility. In a statement released last week, UrtheCast CEO and co-founder Scott Larson said that the HD streaming would launch soon.

“This summer we’ll begin feeding live video data from the HDEV cameras to UrtheCast’s web platform, our interactive hub of Earth video and imagery,” he explained. “NASA’s online HDEV channel has already garnered over 46 million views in under a year, so this is no doubt an exciting opportunity for everyone involved. With this resource, we’ll tap into a view of the world that is not only breathtaking, but incredibly inspiring.”

“Our platform is designed in such a way that will really make this HDEV data shine,” added Dan Lopez, the company’s Vice President of Technology. “The video stream itself will provide yet another innovative layer to our web platform offering. It will be integrated into the UrtheCast feed and APIs, which will provide a rich, interactive media experience for viewers and application developers.”


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