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The first 4K livestream from space starts at 1:30PM ET

Astronaut Peggy Whitson will give you an ultra-detailed tour of the ISS.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
April 26, 2017
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Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Astronaut Peggy Whitson has already broken plenty of new ground in her current role as a commander aboard the International Space Station, but she's about to break some more. As promised, Whitson will star in the first-ever 4K livestream from space today (April 26th) at 1:30PM Eastern. Her part will mainly involve a chat with Amazon Web Services exec Sam Blackman (AWS is hosting the event), but the panel as a whole should be worth viewing: it's a chat with NASA and tech industry luminaries about the effects that imaging and cloud technology are having on both science and movie-making.

You'll need a quick internet connection and a reasonably beefy computer to tune in at 4K, although lower resolutions will be an option if you can't spare the bandwidth or computing cycles. However, it's clear that the ISS has the tougher challenge. It's not so much the 4K gear (a RED Epic Dragon camera paired with a 4K encoder) as the internet connection. While the network the ISS uses has been receiving performance upgrades, it remains to be seen how well bandwidth-hungry 4K video works in a real livestream. The agency has to worry about delays, too, and recently revamped its technology to cut wait times.

Provided there are no hiccups, this still represents a breakthrough. ISS crews are no stranger to 4K, but this could make 4K a relative mainstay of all their work, not just something they use for offline productions. Also, it's a testament to how rapidly spaceborne internet has evolved. In 2010, astronauts were happy just to have web access -- now, they can take advantage of features that are impractical for many people back on Earth.

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