Look, Up in the Sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane — no it’s the AMC-18C satellite delivering Ultra-HD video to North America. The UHD channel is the result of a joint operation between The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Harmonic, a worldwide leader in video delivery infrastructure. Transmission will take place using NASA’s Atlanta uplink and Harmonic’s UHD-ready broadcast equipment.
Dubbed NASA TV UHD, this will be the first non-commercial UHD channel in North America. It will broadcast 2160p at 60 fps video via the same transponder that is currently in play for existing NASA TV channels. Video will be broadcasted in the Clear via Satellite and Cable as well as through Internet streaming, requiring a throughput minimum of 13 Mbps for viewing.
Harmonic will be able to provide live, full-frame, full GOP UHD encoding using their Electra X3 advanced media processor, powered by the proprietary Pure Compression Engine, an encoding system which supports the 2160p60 resolution (HEVC Main 10). The infrastructure will also incorporate the following technologies: the Ellipse 3000 contribution encoder; the ProView 7100 IRD; the MediaGrid shared-storage system; Polaris playout management; the Spectrum X media server; the ProMedia Origin packager and streaming server along with the NSG Exo distributed CCAP system.
Programming will include video from NASA missions, from the Hubble Space Telescope, video as well as images from the International Space Station, plus remastered historical footage. Live streams of rocket launches is also planned to eventually join the roster of video presentations.
Future plans are to incorporate HDR and expanded color space into the video once the standards have become set in place. Testing of these technologies is planned for later this year. While testing is now in process for viewing on the AMC-18C satellite, the expected launch date is planned for the first of November.