UrtheCast Prepares for Liftoff

UrtheCast’s two cameras will be attached to the Russian segment of the ISS
UrtheCast’s two cameras will be attached to the Russian segment of the ISS

A B.C. startup is set to send its streaming, HD cameras to the International Space Station on Monday

In case ninety minutes of watching George Clooney in space wasn’t enough for you, in early 2014 you’ll be to watch a near real-time stream of our planet from the lower reaches of space, courtesy of Vancouver company UrtheCast Corp. (pronounced “Earth-cast”).
The company’s cameras will launch into space aboard a Soyuz rocket on Monday at 12:53 p.m. Vancouver time, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will be installed on the Russian segment of the ISS. UrtheCast will live stream the launch from its website.
Travelling at over 26,000 km/h, the cameras will orbit Earth 16 times a day, able to capture 90 per cent of the world’s population from its low orbit vantage point.
UrtheCast’s cameras will capture images at a resolution of one meter per pixel, granular enough to show moving vehicles and large crowds.
Four days to liftoff, the company also announced that it had secured a $35-million insurance policy from one of the world’s few space insurance brokers for the launch, installation, commissioning and business interruption of its two cameras aboard the ISS. While space is an easy sell to most school children and science nerds (the writer included), UrtheCast’s ability to hammer out an agreement with its insurers will be welcome news to future business partners down on planet earth, as the project’s risks have been significantly scaled back.
To date UrtheCast has kept its business plans quiet, promoting its partnerships with aid agencies, environmental groups and the Discovery Channel. The company is also promoting its open Application Program Interface, which will allow developers to build products of its live-stream, and has signed data distribution agreements worth between $19 and $21 million.

On the product side, UrtheCast is working in partnership with Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and Richmond-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, Ltd., which developed hardware for the project.