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Endeavour to deliver Astrium-built HD camera system to the ISS


Astrium developed and delivered HD video camera assembly for the Columbus module in record time • Live images from space in full HD will improve medical documentation and facilitate operation and maintenance of the space station

Bremen, – On what will probably be its last flight, and the penultimate shuttle mission, the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour, scheduled for launch on April 29, 2011, will transport a new HD video camera to the International Space Station (ISS). The first full HD video camera designed and built by Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, for the ISS on behalf of ESA, was delivered in the record time of eight months. At the end of 2010, a fully qualified and tested prototype of the High Definition Video Camera Assembly (HD-VCA), including the interface unit, was delivered by ESA/Astrium to NASA for upload with this so called mission ULF-6 56 (Utilization and Logistics Flight). The camera has a design life of ten years and is intended to replace one of the existing system cameras on board the Columbus module.

There are a multitude of possible uses for high-quality moving images from on board the ISS that remain crisp and sharp even on large displays or projection screens. They can provide doctors with high-resolution documentation for detailed case histories or can serve as a precision tool for specialists who need to analyse in-orbit hardware and processes when providing technical ground support. Moreover it gives the general public on Earth genuine insights into events in orbit. The product also has potential for commercial exploitation: the HD camera could in future be set up to film through a window while the astronauts are asleep, enabling it to transmit live images of Earth back to the ground station.

To achieve the very short time to orbit for the HD-VCA project, Astrium processed multiple aspects of each phase in parallel, from development through to testing, qualification, and the work on prototype devices. Close cooperation was maintained with ESA throughout. The specifications for the HD video camera for the ISS included employing as many off-the-shelf components as possible, while at the same time limiting or preferably avoiding the risks associated with the use of such components in space. Astrium’s solution was the HD-VCA Box which fits underneath the actual HD camcorder. It serves as an interface enabling the HD camera to operate on power supplied by the Columbus laboratory’s on-board network, and also converts the data recorded by the HD camera into a format that the systems on-board Columbus can read, process and downlink.

Technical data of the HD-VCA project:


Type: Canon XH G1s

Resolution: full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels, 25 fps), 3CCD sensor system

Audio: 2 channels, MPEG1 Audio Layer II, sampling frequency: 48 kHz, bit rate: 384 kbps

Lens system: 20x zoom, f=4.5 90mm, f/1.6-3.5

Bitrate: approx. 27 Mbit/s (MPEG2)

HD-VCA Box (developed by Astrium):

Compatible with existing interfaces available on Columbus, with IEEE1394/FireWire digital interface for connections to industry-standard equipment and an analogue NTSC video interface

About Astrium

Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services.

In 2010, Astrium had a turnover of €5 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment, and Astrium Services for comprehensive end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, bespoke geo-information and navigation services worldwide.

EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.


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