UrtheCast — the company aiming to bring high-definition pictures of Earth to the public — is among the exemptions after NASA severed most ties officially with Russia yesterday (April 2), the company said in a press release.
“It is business as usual for the company, as we continue the commissioning of our cameras on the International Space Station,” stated Wade Larson, UrtheCast President and chief operating officer.
“The ISS has long enjoyed a privileged position in international diplomacy and has survived unscathed during multiple international crises in recent years. In fact, we understand that the ISS has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. I think that says a lot.”
The news came around the same time that UrtheCast revealed its first pictures from its two cameras, which were installed by Russian spacewalkers in January following a failed attempt in December.
The new pictures reveal a few hundred square miles of Moneague, Jamaica and Santa Cruz de Mara, Venezuela, both taken on March 28.
“This is a pivotal moment for the company and for everyone who’s been a part of the vision that we set in motion in the fall of 2010. Our team has been working extremely hard to make certain that we reach this goal of democratizing a very powerful perspective on the planet,” stated Scott Larson, UrtheCast co-founder and chief executive officer.
The company is promising there will soon be a “near realtime” stream of Earth observations from the cameras’ perch on the International Space Station. Read more about the company’s plans in this past Universe Today story.
Following a leaked memo early yesterday, NASA released an official statement saying that it would sever most ties with Russia except for those related to International Space Station operations. The United States is among several countries condemning Russia’s decision to bring troops to Crimea a few weeks ago. The decision will likely affect several planetary science agreements with Russia, planetary scientist Barbara Cohen said on Twitter after the news was released.