BT to broadcast live from space

BT will be delivering a live broadcast link between London and the International Space Station (ISS), allowing visitors at the New Scientist Live event to interact with Italian European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

BT’s media and broadcast division is working with the European Space Agency to provide the live broadcast technology, allowing visitors to the event at London’s ExCeL showcase to watch the astronaut live as he orbits 250 miles above the earth, as part of a five month mission on board the ISS.

BT’s bespoke Outside Broadcast (OB) truck, coupled with the iconic BT Tower, will enable the broadcast from space to happen. The specialist, high-capacity vehicle is key to the monitoring and pre-production of the link. It is capable of receiving multiple HD and UHD feeds simultaneously, ensuring a high-quality viewing and listening experience.

The video and audio of Paolo, picked up by the camera at the ISS, will start its journey to the UK via three satellites orbiting 36,000km from Earth, known as the Tracking and Data Relay System (TDRS). These satellites will transmit the footage to the Johnson Space Centre TV facility where they will then enter the Encompass Atlanta broadcast hub for connectivity to London over a fibre-optic global network. When it reaches London, the TV signal will convert from US TV standards to UK standards and be presented to BT’s Facility Line switch in BT Tower. The signal is then encoded and compressed to 90Mbps across the local fibre circuit to the ExCeL centre, decoded back to a HD signal at 1.485Gbps by the BT OB truck and presented to the on-site production vehicle for delivery to the New Scientist Live main theatre.

Mark Wilson-Dunn, vice president of BT Media & Broadcast, said: “This is an unusual but exciting ask for us, and a bit of a technical challenge given the route the feed takes via multiple satellites from space back to the UK. A stellar effort from our team, coupled with the very best broadcasting equipment and our world-class fibre network, will offer today’s visitors the chance to interact with Paolo on his mission.”

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