NASA to launch first non-commercial UHD channel in North America
NASA announced on Friday, Sept. 11, that it is partnering with video delivery infrastructure company Harmonic to launch NASA TV UHD, the first non-commercial ultra-high definition (UHD) television channel in North America. The partnership is the result of a Space Act agreement between Harmonic and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The new channel is expected to launch on Nov. 1.“Partnering with Harmonic gives NASA an outlet for its UHD content, which has four times the resolution of HD and is the next iteration of digital television,” said Robert Jacobs, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Communications at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
The new channel will use the 8 megapixel resolution of UHD to showcase high-resolution video and images generated from the International Space Station and other current NASA missions, as well as re-mastered footage from historical missions, footage from NASA’s development and training processes, and, eventually, live launches. For example, the channel will offer the closest possible experience to looking out of the viewing Cupola of the ISS.
The fifth SpaceX cargo supply mission delivered a RED Epic Dragon camera to the ISS in January 2015. This camera is capable of shooting at resolutions ranging from standard HD to 6K. The camera’s ability to record in high resolution at up to 300 frames per second make it ideal for capturing dynamic events like spacecraft operations near the space station, such as docking and undocking.
NASA began uploading 4K videos to the ReelNASA YouTube channel in June. Recent UHD videos from the ISS have included a science demonstration of the effects of microgravity on an effervescent tablet in a ball of water and the harvesting and eating of lettuce grown in space.
Harmonic is currently in negotiations with pay-tv operators to carry the channel on satellite, cable, and optical networks. The channel will also stream on the Internet, viewers will need at least 13 Mbps access connectivity to receive the signal.
“As NASA reaches new heights and reveals the unknown, the NASA TV UHD channel can bring that journey to life in every home. And as organizations at the forefront of innovation, together we are leading the adoption of this exciting technology,” said Peter Alexander, chief marketing officer at Harmonic. “As the leader in UHD development, Harmonic provides a complete solution for Ultra HD video production and delivery, enabling content and service providers to offer better video quality at a low total cost of ownership.”
Video courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Flight Center
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.