TOKYO — The world’s first “space studio” will be launched inside the International Space Station (ISS), it has been learned. Footage that is received from individuals on Earth will be shown on a screen installed inside the ISS, which astronauts will shoot alongside their home planet, and deliver the footage to people via the internet. There are plans to deliver messages from celebrities encouraging the public amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The studio is a joint operation between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Tokyo-based digital entertainment firm Bascule Inc. The unmanned cargo transport Kounotori, set to be launched from JAXA Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwest Japan, on May 21 will carry the equipment to the ISS. The studio, dubbed The Space Frontier Studio Kibo, will be built inside the Japanese Experiment Module, nicknamed Kibo.
Kibo has a round window in it, from which Earth can be seen. The display screen will be installed next to the window, and will show footage and messages sent to the ISS from people down below on the blue marble. Astronauts will act as camera crew and shoot the footage along with the Earth peeking through the window, and deliver the final product via YouTube and other means. If astronauts themselves appear in the videos they are shooting, face-to-face communication will be possible.
In the near future, members of the general public hoping to appear on the “broadcasts” will be able to via the internet. Bascule Inc. President Masayoshi Boku said, “This is a door that connects the ground we stand on with space, and can be said to be the only digital signage in space. Hopefully it can become a medium that all the people of the world can come together through at once.” For example, “proposing via space” will be possible, Boku pointed out.
The ISS has been used as a place for scientific experiments and technology demonstrations, but as it requires massive funding to keep operational, there have been attempts to open it up to commercial use by various countries. JAXA, in addition to its project with Bascule Inc., has begun a joint project with satellite communication and TV company Sky Perfect JSAT Corp., based in Tokyo, as part of its space media programs. Sky Perfect is aiming to install a camera outside Kibo and start ultra-high-definition live broadcasts in 2021.
Of both projects, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata released a statement saying, “They are pioneering endeavors in businesses led by the private sector, and I look forward to them as a step in discovering new ways that Kibo can be used.”