UrtheCast says two cameras installed on space station, and sending data

A top official with the Vancouver-based firm that developed a pair of cameras for the International Space Station says they have been connected during a spacewalk by two Russian astronauts and are working as expected.

Scott Larson, the CEO of UrtheCast Corp. (TSX:UR) also says both cameras — one that shoots photos, the other video —were successfully installed and data was being received from them.

“We were able to confirm that the cables were working and that we could communicate with the cameras,” he said in an email to The Canadian Press.

“We will be continuing to update internal software on the ISS (International Space Station), but we are certainly moving from the installation phase of the company, to the commissioning and calibration phase.”

It had earlier been reported that Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy successfully installed one of two cameras for Earth observations, a task requiring multiple power connections outside the space station, but that the second, medium-resolution camera did not provide good data to ground controllers after Monday’s hookup.

Larson said in a phone interview that there was a small connection issue, but the camera eventually started to send data down.

“I don’t think anyone here is too worried about it,” he said. “This is kind of what happens.”

All the external camera connections are believed to be solid, Russian Mission Control told the astronauts, and it was suggested that some files might be to blame.

The astronauts had hooked up both Earth-observing cameras during a spacewalk right after Christmas.

But ground controllers received no data from either camera, and the spacewalkers had to haul everything back in. The problem was traced to indoor cabling.

Larson said work still has to be done before the cameras are completely functional.

“We’re going to spend three months basically getting the cameras fully commissioned and calibrated,” he said.

“Then we’ll slowly start to sell pictures to governments, earth observation companies — people who want pictures of Earth from space”.

Larson said that UrtheCast has signed agreements with the UN, “lots of non-profits, lots of aid organizations who want pictures from space.”

While still cameras are not unique in space, all eyes will be on the high resolution video camera that Larson hopes to have operating by the end of July or August.

“The video camera is entirely unique, it’s full colour, will have a 90-second video clip, will take 150 of those a day and that’s at one-metre resolution,” he said.

“It’s one-metre big so you can see buildings, cars, planes, buses, groups of people, things like that (but) you’ll never see the guy mowing a lawn.”

Larson said he and his team enjoyed a pancake breakfast in Vancouver while the two Russians outside the space station were hurtling through space at 25,000 kilometres per hour as they worked on the UrtheCast cameras.

“It was kind of surreal,” he added.

With files from The Associated Press