The first commercial Space Act Agreement
Mark Shuttleworth and Nasa have signed the first commercial Space Act Agreement allowing him limited access to NASA’s communications infrastructure while on the International Space Station (ISS). Mark will be provided with email access, 10 MB for sending, and 1 MB for receiving. He will also be able to send 10 minutes of video footage that he will shoot in the ISS. In addition, Mark will have access to an IP phone for 15 minutes per day. He will have quite a bill with all those long distance calls!
Mark will use the email allocation to send photo images to South Africa, for use in the Ham Radio sessions. Learners at the HAM sessions will be able to see these images, which will be prominently displayed, thereby enhancing the talk experience and providing context for the discussions. Mark’s photography will concentrate on physical features in Africa, and South Africa, allowing the children to glean a different perspective of their “neighborhoods”.
Mark’s receiving email facility will be used primarily to obtain his daily schedule from inputs fed to him from members of the First African in Space Project at Mission Control Centre (MCC).
Communication with Earth
The video sessions will also serve to enhance the learning experience for the children. Mark will attempt to demonstrate the effects of micro-gravity on ordinary daily activities. He will provide a contextual feel of life aboard the ISS, and show some typical window views. The video footage will be sent down to the Mission Control Centre, MCC, where it will be formatted in order for this footage to be sent to South Africa almost immediately, over the Internet.
Mark will use the IP (Internet Protocol) phone to communicate with his
family for psychological support during this historical mission.
In order for all these activities to take place in almost real time, significant work has to be performed by the various team members in NASA. Once NASA has ensured the performance of the infrastructure, Freddy Khan, who will be based at the IMC, an offshoot of the MCC, will then coordinate the dissemination of the video content, email communications and image downloads.
In addition, Mark has also entered into an agreement with Lockheed Martin for photographic image services. The agreement serves to support the provision of sighting information for the images shot during the flight, approximately 20 daily shots, as well as a service to catalogue all of his images after the flight.