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Earth In HD: 2nd Spacewalk To Outfit ISS With B.C. Cameras

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Cosmonauts are busy this morning in their second attempt to bolt two high-definition Earth-observation cameras provided by a B.C. company onto the International Space Station.  

The efforts mark Vancouver-based UrtheCast's second attempt at putting the HD cameras into space — one shooting photos, the other streaming video — with lenses trained back on the Earth. 

UrtheCast tried to have the cameras installed on the ISS late last year.

Scott Larson, CEO of UrtheCast, said the cameras had gone through rigorous preflight testing before December's installation attempt, but space station staff decided to uninstall them after running into problems with connectors and then difficulties monitoring the power received.

"Yeah so it's in space. Ah, space, is of course ... It's always tricky," Larson told CBC News. "There's always funny stuff going on there."

Now, a month later, with the bugs hopefully worked out, the camera installation will go ahead again starting just after 2 p.m. GMT, or 6 a.m. Vancouver time. Larson said this time, the spacewalk should change the way the world sees itself. 

Images from the two HD video cameras will be downloaded to ground stations on Earth and be made available just a few hours after they're captured, providing what the company calls the "world's first near-live HD video feed of Earth."

Larson says astronauts see Earth from space as small, borderless and special, and most come back with a desire to do more to take care of it.

"And so the goal is to give a little bit of what astronauts see, their viewpoint, and get that out over the web."

But there's another pressure for the rapidly expanding Vancouver tech company to get the cameras working: cash.

UrtheCast customers will be able to hire one of the two cameras to look at a particular spot on Earth for a fee.

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