Two cameras developed by Vancouver’s UrtheCast headed for space station

UNDATED, Unknown Country – There were cheers and the clinking of champagne glasses when two Canadian space cameras blasted off for the International Space Station on Monday aboard an unmanned Russian spacecraft.

The cameras — one shoots photos, the other streams video — are expected to begin transmitting high-definition images of the Earth on the Internet early next year.

The two cameras, which were developed by Vancouver-based UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR), were part of the three tons of food, fuel and supplies that will be delivered to the space station in about four days.

The Russian Progress supply ship, which will be making the deliveries, took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The cameras will be installed on the Zvezda service module, the Russian segment of the space station, during two space walks in mid-December.

UrtheCast president Wade Larson, who was in Kazakhstan, told a launch party at Vancouver’s Telus World of Science that the blast-off was “absolutely extraordinary.”

“It lit up like daylight and you can feel the vibrations in your gut,” he said.

Larson added the launch was a sense of relief.

Company officials have indicated there will be about a one-hour delay before the images taken by the cameras show up on Urthecast’s website.

Larry Reeves, senior systems engineer, said the high-resolution video camera will take images of an area measuring three by five kilometres.

The cameras will be able to show flash mobs, outdoor events, stadiums, boats and planes, but images like people’s faces and licence plates will be too small to be visible.

Reeves said they will also be used for agriculture, forestry and environmental monitoring.