UrtheCast ‐ Articles

Building a ‘live Google Earth’

Fourteen years ago, in November 1998, I stood on a low mound overlooking the bleak Kazakhstan steppe. It was early morning. The ground was covered in a light dusting of snow and a bitter wind tore across the cracked concrete, flattening the surrounding scrappy clumps of grass.

A stream of garbled Russian crackled from a loudspeaker mounted on an army truck. The speech was overwhelmed by static and the angry muttering of a technician attempting a hasty repair. Neither of us looked particularly happy to be there. At least I was being paid – in Yeltsin’s Russia, the chances were he hadn’t received a salary for several weeks. Nevertheless, we were both about to witness a significant moment in space history.

Read NextArticles

Upcoming Space Station Cameras Will Give All Humans Live Imagery of Their Houses From Space

An ambitious effort to broadcast real-time streaming video of Earth from space is closer to reality, after a new influx of cash and some new partnerships. By spring 2013, everyone on Earth will be able to watch the planet from the most unique vantage point ever built, the International Space Station.