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'Big Brother' spacecraft launches: World's first full-colour satellite is capable of capturing high-definition videos of individual people from orbit

January 12, 2018 4:59 PM
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A British satellite could provide a full colour, high-definition video of our planet from space, even picking up objects as small as 26 inches (65cm) big on the ground.

The 'Big Brother' video satellite, which is currently still a prototype can capture videos of individual people from orbit in high definition.

It was one of 31 payloads sent up in the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carrying dozens of satellites from India and six other countries.

Within a few hours controllers had made their first contact with the UK satellite.

The British spacecraft is a pre-production model and if it performs well the Guildford-based company Earth-i will create another batch of five.

The forthcoming constellation - which will be known as Vivid-i - will be the first to give full-colour, high definition from space, writes the BBC.

It will orbit at an altitude of 314 miles (505km) and can point at specific locations, taking pictures and creating two-minute films.

'We can collect up to 50 frames per second which is a lot of information', Earth-i CEO Richard Blain told BBC news.

'That allows us to stack the individual images and increase our effective resolution, achieving somewhere around 65cm [26 inches] to 75cm [30 inches],' he said, allowing it to capture moving cars and ships.

It could also monitor urban traffic flow and make maps to provide information for relief efforts following natural disasters.

After the initial batch of five are sent up by the end of 2019, Earth-i plans to put up five spacecraft annually.

'Today is a significant milestone for Earth-i and for the global space industry', said Mr Blain.

'We are now researching and testing the technology and data services for the Vivid-i Constellation using the still and video imagery from this prototype – and showing our customers what will be possible in the future from new capabilities such as colour video from space', he said.

The Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has launched into space, carrying dozens of satellites from India and six other countries.

One of the 31 payloads is a British spacecraft created by Guildford-based company Earth-i.

The video satellite is a prototype of a that could one day provide footage of individual people from orbit in high definition and is capable of gathering 50 frames of images per second.

It is a pre-production model and if it performs well Earth-i will create another batch of five.

A. S. Kiran Kumar, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said the satellites successfully reached orbit after the polar satellite launch vehicle took off from Sriharikota, an island off Andhra Pradesh state in the country's southeast.

Apart from two Indian weather satellites, the rocket also carried 28 micro and nano-satellites from Canada, Finland, France, South Korea and the United States.

Also on PSLV was a Phase 1 LEO satellite that is a Canadian prototype to deliver broadband across the world.

There was also a small radar-imaging satellite for Finnish start-up ICEYE.

The launch is the latest in a string of successes for the Indian space agency.

Last June, India launched its heaviest-ever rocket it hopes will eventually be able to carry astronauts into space, a feat that only Russia, the United States and China have achieved.

The lift-off was postponed by a minute because of fear of collision with space debris, the New Delhi Television news channel said.

The last launch of India's first privately built satellite failed in August because of a heat shield problem.

In 2013, India launched a space probe that has been orbiting Mars since September 2014.

Also read: Celebrity Big Brother USA confirms season two houseguests


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