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IBC: NASA To Launch UHD Channel

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Harmonic announced a notable step forward in the lift-off of Ultra HD (UHD) video by unveiling plans to partner on what they are billing as “the first consumer UHD channel in North America.”

The NASA TV UHD channel will offer 2160p60 content from the space program and allow consumers to view the UHD footage on a wide range of TVs and IP-connected devices.

The partners are describing the channel as offering “the closest possible experience to looking out of the viewing Cupola of the International Space Station.”

Harmonic is providing the technical infrastructure for the channel.

Content for NASA TV UHD video will come from high-resolution images and video generated on the International Space Station (ISS), Hubble Space Telescope, and other current NASA missions as well as remastered footage from historical missions and training programs.

Ultimately content will also include live launches.

NASA and Harmonic are also exploring the possibility of adding high dynamic range (HDR) and expanded color-space technologies to the UHD channel as standards for these improved versions of UHD emerge.

The partners noted that some testing is expected before the end of the year.

Currently, a test signal of NASA TV UHD is currently available on the AMC 18C satellite, with an expected launch date of Nov. 1, 2015.

NASA TV UHD will be transmitted via the AMC-18C satellite, which it used for the current NASA TV channels, in the clear in North American footprint.

Harmonic is currently in discussions with pay-TV operators to carry the channel on their satellite DTH, cable and optical networks for consumer access.

The channel will also be streamed on the Internet, which will require at least 13 Mbps access connectivity for a reliable viewing experience.

The channel will be transmitted from NASA's Atlanta uplink facility.

It is remotely produced by Harmonic and jointly operated, using a variety of Harmonic’s products and technologies that are being shown at IBC.