U.S.-Russian venture promises Web, TV broadcasts from space
Illustration of the completed International Space Station
December 13, 1999
Web posted at: 9:25 a.m. EST (1425 GMT)
From staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A U.S. company that offers space services to NASA and a Russian counterpart with experience as far back at Sputnik announced Friday an agreement to establish an entirely commercial module on the International Space Station.
Spacehab Inc. and RSC Energia are jointly planning the segment, which will be manned and include the first independent commercial television and Internet broadcasts from space, according to the company chairman.
Web site broadcasts from the space station will "offer a virtual trip to space," allowing people to watch experiments and talk to astronauts, said Shelly Harrison. "This is a cross of the world of space and the world of the Internet."
ISS: A 360° panoramic tour
International Space Station 3-D VRML
Shuttle Discovery 3-D VRML
International Space Station Message Board
The new module, to join to the Russian segment of the ISS, will house a broadcast station and research laboratory. Spacehab estimates the cost to develop the module, named Enterprise, at about $100 million.
The Washington-based company has plenty of space experience. Its modules supported the first resupply mission to the ISS and seven others to the Russian space station Mir.
Russians to build, Americans to finance
RSC (Russian Rocket Corp.) Energia, a leading Russian space hardware company, will build the module and work with the Russian Space Agency to coordinate the launch.
The Russian company has decades of experience in manned space operations, spacecraft, space stations, communications satellites, manufacturing and launch operations.
Spacehab, which has lost money recently because of space shuttle and ISS delays, plans to pay for the module and space media company in large part through private financing. The company hopes it can also generate cash by using the module to expand its space education programs to schools across the planet.
Designed to increase pressurized volume for astronauts, Spacehab modules have flown on NASA space shuttles. The company is providing the astronaut quarters for the ISS, to be completed in 2004.
Led by the United States, a consortium of 16 countries are working on the $60 billion ISS. It is slated to weigh almost 1 million pounds and consist of a dozen major components.
Currently the station consists of two segments launched in late 1998, one from the United States and one from Russia. It is orbiting 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.
Russian construction delays and U.S. shuttle problems have halted flights to the station this year. They are scheduled to resume in 2000.
Reuters contributed to this report.