Space Cameras Back on Track

Technology | BCBusiness
EarthCast’s two cameras were installed on the International Space Station

After a setback that saw UrtheCast’s share price tumble, the company reports that its space cameras are back on track for deployment later this month

UrtheCast Corp. says it’s back in business on the International Space Station after the delayed installation of its two Earth imaging cameras over the holidays, which sent its newly listed stock into a temporary tailspin.
The Vancouver-based company said Tuesday that the issue preventing the cameras from being set up on schedule has been fixed, and was related to cables inside the ISS. That means the two high definition cameras, which together are worth about $17 million, will be used during the next spacewalk, expected later this month.
“We knew that there was a solution coming,” said UrtheCast CEO Scott Larson in an interview. “Now that we have it and it has been tested and we can announce it, we’re all excited here.”
The cameras were sent to the space station in late November aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket docked with the Russian segment of the station five days later and the cameras were expected to be used during the next spacewalk, before it was discovered they weren’t receiving power.
UrtheCast  personnel were on-site at mission control in Moscow, and Larson was following progress himself from Vancouver throughout the Christmas holidays, trying to find out what was preventing the cameras from being hooked up. Larson says that because neither camera was working during the testing, he and his colleagues were confident it wasn’t their products that were causing the issue.
On Tuesday this week, the company confirmed in a news release that it was a “cabling issue” inside the space station, that caused the connectivity problem. “The issue that delayed the initial installation of the cameras has now been resolved,” the company stated.
Urthecast shares closed up 11 per cent on the TSX on Tuesday, or 23 cents, to $2.38. That’s still shy of its high of $2.58 reached in early December, when the company reported the cameras had successfully reached the space station. The shares fell 20 per cent to $1.90 on Friday, December 27 and trading was halted. They resumed trading the following Monday when the company reported the installation problems.
UrtheCast went public in late June at $1.77 a share and fell to $1.22 in September before steadily recovering.
Larson says the company plans to make money selling images from the cameras to the “earth observation industry,” which includes such organizations as the United Nations and others that can make use of high-definition pictures from space. He adds that other customers could include game developers and companies that are looking for images from space for use in their own products.
Clarus Securities Inc. analyst Eyal Ofir says that while the issue has caused a delay in the installation of the cameras for a few weeks, “we do not believe that this has delayed the business plan of the company.” He forecasts the stock will hit $4 over the next 12 months, and has a “buy” recommendation on it for investors.