TV from Space

DIGITAL JAM 19:30:00 pm ET
April 25, 2000; Tuesday 8:22 pm Eastern Time
Mary Kathleen Flynn, Steve Young, Bob Beard



MARY KATHLEEN FLYNN, CNNfn ANCHOR, DIGITAL JAM: During this week's shuttle mission, whenever it finally gets off the ground, the astronauts will be using work space built by a little known Washington, DC commercial space firm. The company now hopes to boost its lagging revenue with an out of this world project. CNN's Bob Beard reports.


BOB BEARD, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As if there's not enough TV to watch already on Earth, a Nasdaq company called SPACEHAB <Company: SPACEHAB Incorporated; Ticker: SPAB; URL: , a supplier to NASA with $108 million in revenue last year, wants to produce and broadcast TV shows and Webcasts from space.

DAVID ROSSI, PRESIDENT, SPACEHAB: Were going to create unique propriety programming that no one else on the planet will have, and we're going to distribute that through traditional broadband outlets and the Internet.

BEARD: Spacehab and a Russian space firm, RSC Energia, plan to focus initially on the activities in the 16-nation International Space Station, now losing orbit several hundred miles above the Earth. The two firms are splitting the $100 million cost to build this module dubbed "The Enterprise." They hope to launch it on a Russian a rocket in mid-2002 with two cameras onboard, controlled from the ground, and a tiny 9 by 7 foot multimedia production facility for one astro- or cosmonaut.

ROSSI: Not so bad. I mean, there are people that don't have apartments in New York that are that big.

BEARD: Spacehab's betting consumers, Web sites, and advertisers will pay a pretty penny for a first-hand look at space station life.

ROSSI: Maybe it would make an interesting program to exercise with an astronaut. So while you're on your treadmill at home, you'll be able to see an astronaut doing the same thing.

BEARD: NASA is already in the broadcasting business today, but space junkies say the agency could certainly use some private competition.

JOHN PIKE, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: I think the notion that we could put market incentives in place to try to capitalize on all the money we're spending on the space station to bring some exciting television into the homes of all the taxpayers who are paying for it is a really good idea.

BEARD (on camera): Spacehab plans to announce projects soon with broadcasters, Web sites, maybe Hollywood. It eventually hopes to produce commercials, even concerts, from orbit.

Bob Beard, CNN Financial News, Washington.

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