The International Space Station

The ISS is about to receive its highest resolution camera ever

A state-of-the-art high-resolution camera system has been sent to the International Space Station (ISS) where it is expected to operate for 60 days to help shape plans for a new ultra-high-resolution camera system that is currently being in development.

The actual specifications of the camera have not been released (other than the statement that it is the most advanced and highest resolution camera ever sent to the ISS), but the images that this camera system will capture will be used inside a massive new location called the MSG Sphere.

The MSG Sphere – operated by Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG) – is a new entertainment medium and “multi-sensory platform” designed to deliver “immersive experiences on an unparalleled scale” set to open in Las Vegas at The Venetian in 2023 .

When complete, it will be the largest spherical structure in the world with an outer exosphere that includes a 580,000 square foot fully programmable LED display and the largest LED display on Earth. A 1/4 scale example of this massive sphere currently sits at the company’s headquarters in Burbank.

Inside, the venue will house the world’s highest resolution LED screen: a 160,000 square foot display plan that will envelop, above and behind the audience at a resolution more than 80 times that of a high-definition television with approximately 17,500 seats and a scalable capacity of up to 20,000 guests.

MSG sphere
A rendering of the MSG sphere.

“Our vision with MSG Sphere is to create immersive experiences that transport audiences to new places, and there are few landscapes more awe-inspiring than outer space,” said Andrew Shulkind, senior vice president of capture and innovation at MSG Sphere Studios.

MSG sphere
A rendering of what the inside of the MSG sphere will look like.

“The insights and images we will gain from this first mission will be invaluable in preparing our groundbreaking camera technology for work in space and in deepening our collective understanding of Earth and deep space. We are delighted to collaborate with Nanoracks, CASIS and NASA on this project, which we believe will not only benefit the extraordinary vision of MSG Sphere, but will also set a new bar for ultra-high fidelity imaging.

In order to create content for this massive entertainment company, the company needed to develop custom content creation tools, including camera and lens technology capable of producing ultra-high resolution images. To that end, MSG has partnered with Nanoracks, LLC, a Voyager Space company, to send state-of-the-art immersive camera equipment to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Northrop’s 18th Commercial Resupply Services mission. Grumman (NG-18), which took off yesterday from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with the company’s Cygnus spacecraft on board, launched at 5:32 a.m. EST, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, from Pad-0A at the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 18th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA to the International Space Station will deliver more than 8,000 books of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbiting laboratory and its crew. The CRS-18 Cygnus spacecraft is named after the first American woman in space, Sally Ride. | Photo credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach

MSG’s Sphere Studios capture and technology teams are ready to collaborate with Nanoracks and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) – which operates the ISS National Laboratory – to work with astronauts on the space station through three missions to validate the custom camera technology being developed for the advanced MSG Sphere sites.

Coordinating this effort means it’s not just MSG that will benefit. The ISS National Laboratory is working in conjunction with NASA to maximize the use of what MSG characterizes as an “in-orbit laboratory” that will deliver value through space research and technology demonstrations. Nanoracks installed and operates the first commercial airlock on the ISS and is designing a commercial space station to succeed the ISS after its decommissioning. Nanoracks certifies the camera for use in space, integrates the camera for launch, and will facilitate operations on the ISS to test MSG Sphere’s capture technology.


Picture credits: Images courtesy of MSG Sphere. Header image courtesy of NASA Johnson.

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