Tensions Not Affecting Commercial ISS Venture

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WASHINGTON — Ongoing political tensions with Russia have not been a problem so far for a Canadian company operating cameras on the Russian segment of the international space station, but the crisis does create some uncertainty, a company executive said May 15.

“The situation hasn’t made any difference from an operational standpoint, but it sure isn’t helping,” UrtheCast Chief Executive Scott Larson said in a presentation at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles. The bigger effect, he said, has been on perceptions in the media and among investors in the publicly traded company. 

UrtheCast operates two cameras installed on the exterior of the station earlier this year by Russian cosmonauts, a partnership between the company and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, to provide images and video of Earth. Larson said the company is currently testing one camera, which provides medium-resolution imagery, and expects it to be fully commissioned by this summer. The second camera, which produced high-resolution images and video, will be ready several weeks later.