NASA Takes HDTV into Space

Last week, the 26th mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia touched down with a payload of high-definition footage, taken with an HD camcorder. The mission, which lasted five days and concluded last week, was the 95th so far. NASA and Sony will research these high-resolution images of Shuttle mission STS-93, including footage of the deployment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Doug Holland, HDTV projects engineer for NASA, states that "NASA and Sony Electronics have entered into a Space Act Agreement to research the benefits of using high-definition technology in space. Sony's HDW-700A had passed our flight certification tests and was approved for use on mission STS-93."

Sony says that the agreement they have with NASA is designed to demonstrate side-by-side simultaneous comparisons of HDTV and NTSC formats during Shuttle missions from which NASA can make post-mission color and clarity assessments, and to provide NASA with HDTV source material for broadcast distribution that meets FCC HDTV standards.

Laurence Thorpe, a spokesman from Sony, says, "We believe that the 1920x1080 high-definition image will be a great benefit for evaluating Space Shuttle mission footage and to bring the best-quality images to the public. By entering in the Space Act Agreement, we are working together to research not only the quality of images brought back from the mission, but evolve the ergonomics and features of our camcorder."

Sony says its camcorder is scheduled for additional research in a number of future Space Shuttle missions, and could be used to record and document the building of the Space Station.