NASA Launches First Live HD Spacecast

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration made history today, Nov. 15, with the first live broadcasts from space in HD. NASA, in cooperation with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Discovery HD Theater, and NHK of Japan, are jointly producing the spacecasts.

Two live HD broadcasts featured Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria on the International Space Station, with Flight Engineer Thomas Reiter serving as camera operator aboard the lab floating about 220 miles above the Earth. The broadcasts were carried by Discovery HD Theater and NHK live at 11:30 a.m. EST (and were set to be shown at many of Discovery Channel's retail outlets and repeated through this week).

NASA said it has included HD cameras on previous missions but always had to wait until the ships returned to Earth to retrieve the tapes in order to watch the video. NASA's Space Video Gateway is a system that transmits high-bandwidth signals to ground stations. The Space Shuttle Atlantis crew delivered the equipment to the space station last September.

Without specifying brand names or models, NASA simply said the HD package includes "a commercially manufactured camcorder, viewfinder, lenses and power cables, an HDTV signal decoder, processor and hard drive, and power and data cables."