It was quite a day for the Discoveries of the world and for HD on Tuesday. The Shuttle Discovery lifted off on schedule Tuesday morning, following a major delay two weeks earlier. The virtually flawless launch was covered in HD by at least two networks in North America.
Discovery Channel held the exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to NASA's live HD launch, and HDNet aired it in HD in the United States.
For Discovery Channel, in addition to the ground crew, two planes mounted with HD cameras circled the shuttle about 18,300 meters above the launch pad, capturing the event in a way NASA has never attempted on previous missions. In fact, it was the most photographed launch in history, with more than 100 NASA cameras (mostly not HD) capturing the event for both research and historic purposes.
HDNet in the United States used more than a dozen cameras positioned throughout the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. HDNet founder Mark Cuban said in keeping with his channel's practice of delivering live news uninterrupted by anchor commentary or special production techniques, the network chose to air the natural sounds of the launch, complemented only by NASA's official audio feed. (Several broadcast networks did the same for the launch itself, in the analog realm.)
Previously scheduled to launch July 13, NASA postponed Discovery's send-off only hours before launch after detecting a problem with the Shuttle's fuel tank sensor. Tuesday marked America's first successful voyage into space since the Columbia disaster of February 2003.
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