• Sony Space Entertainment Project

“I want to see the place where the wedding was held from space”, “I want to be surrounded by the stars of the” current universe “in my room”, such wishes may come true in a few years.

Clearer and more frequent. Artificial satellites have been pursuing “functions” as “tools”. However, satellite projects with completely different vectors are now attracting attention. It is “Space Entertainment Sat (satellite)” (tentative name) that Sony, the University of Tokyo (University of Tokyo), and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) are working on.

The concept is “release the universe”.

Until now, the experience of seeing the earth from space has been a privilege only for astronauts. The population of the earth is about 7.8 billion, of which about 600. In addition, operations such as observation satellites that photograph the earth were allowed only by specialists. However, “Space Entertainment Sat” breaks that common sense. The opportunity to freely operate the camera mounted on the satellite is opened to us in general, and we can take pictures of the stars and the earth in the distant space by ourselves. It is said that you can get a realistic perspective and experience as if you were an astronaut in space.

Where did such an idea come from and how do you realize it? I asked a key person of Sony and JAXA.

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

The opportunity was a study session three years ago

How did this project come about?

“Sony has many hobbies and enjoys what they like, and holds seminars almost every day like club activities after work, exchanging information and coming up with ideas. Three years ago, 2017 At the end of June, JAXA and the Cabinet Office came and talked to about 100 Sony members, saying, “The universe is expanding like this now,” and “the private sector is steadily entering the market.” Then, “What can I do in space?” Began to be breasted. “(Mr. Yoshihiro Nakanishi, Space Entertainment Preparation Office, Sony Business Development Platform New Commercialization Promotion Division)

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

    Yoshihiro Nakanishi, Business Development Leader of Sony Space Entertainment Project.Currently, the sports entertainment department is actively involved in launching businesses in new fields, such as attaching sensors to tennis rackets and installing cameras on tennis courts.

Brest Results Why Entertainment Satellites?

“While Sony came up with various ideas such as games and cameras, some people talked about their dreams of” I wanted to be an astronaut “or” I want to go to space. ” I couldn’t go to space suddenly, so I decided to launch a satellite with a camera and take pictures of the earth and stars as if I were in space. “

After that, Mr. Nakanishi and his colleagues rushed around to budget and gather people with the proposal in hand to launch the project. And now, with the aim of launching the “Sony Space Entertainment Project” in 2022, satellite development is steadily progressing in cooperation with JAXA and the University of Tokyo. What kind of satellite is it?

The details of the satellites that Sony’s business development leader Nakanishi and satellite development leader Masao Zen talked about are as follows.

  • How big is the satellite? : Microsatellite (10 cm square x 3-12 range)
  • Where do you fly : Low Earth orbit
  • How many cameras? :One
  • What kind of camera? : Sony camera system that can take “high sensitivity”
  • What can i take? : 4K video and still images
  • What kind of operation can you do? : Remote control allows zoom, pan, tilt and roll
  • How small can you see? : You can understand the school including the ground
  • How do you shoot : Timer (reserved) shooting and real-time shooting
  • When will you launch? : 2022 (target)

Sony has no experience in satellite development. So I teamed up with the strongest partner. The University of Tokyo and JAXA. Sony will utilize technologies such as imaging and sensing to develop the mission part (camera part) of the satellite and build the entire system, and the University of Tokyo will use the development results of the microsatellite system and the micropropulsion system to develop the basic functions of the satellite (bus). Department) In charge of development. JAXA supports business and R & D planning by utilizing its technological capabilities and experience in using and operating a large number of satellites and ISS.

See what you couldn’t see with a high-sensitivity camera

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

    Mr. Mao Zen, the satellite development leader of Sony. Engaged in semiconductor design such as designing LSIs for TVs and developing image sensors for mobiles in the past. Currently developing models as a system engineer for TVs.On the day of the interview, he received a special medical examination to become a radiation worker in preparation for future radiation tests.

What are the characteristics of Sony cameras mounted on satellites? “This time, we selected a camera that prioritized sensitivity,” (Mr. Zen).

The reason is?

“According to astronauts and space personnel, in the case of satellites and ISS (International Space Station) flying in low earth orbit, half of the 90 minutes per lap is at night. I can’t take half the time (mainly because I take pictures of the earth during the day). Then I want to take what I couldn’t take, I want to see what I couldn’t see. For example, the night view of the earth or the aurora. If you do, you will be able to take beautiful pictures of the stars in the distant space. “(Mr. Nakanishi)

In the first place, the aim of this satellite was to “see the earth and space from the perspective of an astronaut.” Astronauts on the ISS post daily photos of the Earth (including night views) taken from space on Twitter. However, “Actually, the windows of the ISS are mostly on the earth side, and there are no windows on the space side. Astronaut Kimiya Yui said that it is difficult to photograph the starry sky. It is possible to photograph both the earth and space. I think this is a characteristic of this satellite, “says Koichi Fujihira, J-SPARC producer of the JAXA New Business Promotion Department, about the characteristics of” Entertainment Sat. “

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

    Mr. Koichi Fujihira from the JAXA New Business Promotion Department. JAXA is in charge of the development of the small demonstration satellite No. 4 (SDS-4) launched in May 2012.When Entertainment Sat is launched, he says, “I want to let my 4-year-old son use it now.”

That’s right. I interviewed Astronaut Yui and co-authored a book called “Aviator in the Starry Sky” in 2019. Astronomer Yui was a self-proclaimed astronomer who wanted to be an astronomer when he was a kid, and was very much looking forward to shooting the starry sky seen from space. Unfortunately, the ISS was unfortunately told that one of its purposes was to observe the Earth, and most of the windows were facing the Earth. Even so, Astronaut Yui inspected the windows in the ISS and sometimes had a hard time shooting the starry sky, such as letting him enter a private room in the Russian residence building.

I also heard that shooting a night view is difficult. The ISS is flying at an ultra-high speed of about 7.8 km / s, flying between Tokyo and Osaka in about 1 minute. Advanced techniques are required to take a night view so that the city lights do not blur. He tried to take a panning shot for about 1 second according to the movement of the ISS, but he said, “It took several months before the light was not blurred even if the image was enlarged.”

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

    Night view of the United States taken from the ISS (Courtesy of NASA)

Isn’t it possible for astronauts to hone their techniques by practicing and use Sony technology to take satellite images of the night view of the earth and the pitch-black sea that can finally be taken? With Sony’s sensitive camera system, “you can shoot at high shutter speeds, which will reduce blurring,” says Nakanishi. Furthermore, “I would like to do my best to make a work with less blurring by making full use of various means such as moving the satellite itself and adding image processing.” It is worth noting how clear the pictures can be taken with the power of technology.

And even for the Milky Way and celestial bodies in deep space, which are difficult to shoot on the ISS, it is expected that a high-sensitivity camera x shooting in outer space without the atmosphere will give you an image that will be wrapped in a starry sky. Of course, there will be requests to take pictures of the earth. If you live in a city, a house, or a child, you may want to see the school you attend. “We aim for a resolution that makes it clear that this is our elementary school, including the ground.” (Mr. Zen)

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

    A sample photo of the Milky Way taken on the ground. “I’m assuming that you can take this much image” (Mr. Nakanishi)

How do you shootThere are two shooting methods

One of the selling points of “Entertainment Sat” is “high sensitivity and the ability to capture night views and stars.” And another selling point is “anyone can shoot freely”. This is the reason for proclaiming “to free the universe.” He wants to meet a wide range of needs of various people in the future, including artists, creators, companies, and children.

There are two ways to shoot. One is to capture the image that the satellite is currently watching in real time. “There may be a slight time lag between sending the shooting command and the actual shooting, but I hope to develop a simulator that utilizes satellite images and create a user experience that can be operated intuitively.” Mr.). The other is timer (reservation) shooting. It is a method to request shooting by setting in advance that you want to shoot “this day”, “this place”, and “like this”.

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

    Aurora taken from the ISS (Courtesy of NASA)

If anyone can operate it, various orders will come. People who “want to shoot the aurora anyway”, professional photographers who are particular about details such as shutter speed and angle of view, people who “want to take beautiful pictures of memories on a sunny day”, “I want to take pictures quickly even if it is cloudy” People etc.

“I want to go to space and really play with the camera so that I can take pictures as freely as possible,” says Zen. “Even if you can’t shoot well, I hope you find it interesting.”

What kind of operation will you take? Actually, the operation interface is also under consideration. “Is it a smartphone-like operation or a computer mouse? Is it a smartphone, a TV or a head-mounted display, or is it a big screen that looks like a dawn in a large space?” There are many ways to show it, “(Mr. Nakanishi). There are various possibilities for combining not only the shooting settings with the camera, but also the operation interface and video display method.

There are also challenges. The camera to be installed can also shoot 4K videos, but the bottleneck is communication time. It takes a long time to download to the ground, and during that time, new shots cannot be taken. There are ideas such as “Space Festival” where artists and audiences can enjoy real-time video of space together, but it may be said that communication is the key to its realization.

  • Sony Space Entertainment Project

“How to maximize the output in the face of limited resources (such as shooting slots and communications). In the future, I would like to aim for more people to use it than some people monopolize. However, suddenly Even if I say “I’m going to do space entertainment,” I don’t think the general public can understand the image, so first of all, I ask artists who have expressive power and partner companies who want to challenge space to create works. After that, we will expand the opportunities to more people. “(Mr. Nakanishi)

It can be used for various purposes such as commercials, documentary production, and video exhibitions at science museums. Currently, Sony is looking for creators and business partners to create new businesses together. After announcing the project in August, dozens of inquiries have already been received. “We have received inquiries from a wide variety of people, including those related to the media, and have begun meetings. Space enthusiasts have included space in their medium-term business plans at any company and contacted us, saying,” I want to do something about it. ” Lol)”

Of course, the Sony Group is a professional group familiar with entertainment, such as the music team, the game department such as Sony PlayStation, and the movie department that deals with movies such as Spider-Man. He says he is discussing what kind of entertainment can be done using the material of the universe.

Mr. JAXA Fujihira, who has experience in manufacturing small satellites by turning screws himself, said, “Until now, there was no satellite that anyone could operate, and trained people operated it in the operation room and turned the data into weather forecasts. In JAXA, satellite operation has a high level of security. In that sense, this project is exactly “releasing the universe.” It must be unbreakable and easy to use no matter who operates it. For the first purpose, I didn’t think about ease of use. It was the first time for a satellite to consider a wide range of usage scenes. It is epoch-making in various aspects. “

The aim is to create new value

More people use Entertainment Sat’s cameras to get a cosmic perspective as if they were in space-this is just the first step in the project. “Sony is involved in satellite development for the first time, and it is the world’s first to freely operate the camera to shoot. (Mr. Nakanishi)

What’s next? “First of all, how much can you capture? Is it the resolution or zoom function that is lacking, or is it important not the captured image but the mechanism on the ground side that delivers it? If you can connect to Unit 2 while thinking.”

What are you aiming for after that? “First of all, let’s see the earth and the distant universe from the universe. I think that it feels like it springs up by looking at the earth. As astronauts say, when you realize that the earth is ephemeral, throw away the garbage. You might want to stop doing it, or if you realize that the ocean is so beautiful, you might be interested in the problem of marine pollution in microplastics. It’s not the case when you are there. ” You just have to feel the excitement of wanting to go to the end of the universe. If we could use our means to create new perspectives and awareness, “(Mr. Nakanishi)

From space use as a “tool” to space use as “fun”. Associate Professor Hiroyuki Koizumi, who is a key person in the University of Tokyo team in charge of the development of the satellite bus department and has been deeply involved for three years, said, “Space utilization has reached a turning point every 20 years. An era when he was active as a pioneer in space development. Various countries have participated since the 1980s, and private use has been promoted since 2000. I think the next 20 years will be entertainment. I will make it. “

There is not much time left until the 2022 launch target. Currently, we are designing the camera and lens parts and the housing to house them. At the end of the year, the mission department will take shape and the tests will be repeated together with the bus department developed by the University of Tokyo. I would like to pay attention to the realization of entertainment sat, which has a new idea of ​​”releasing the universe.”

Sony Space Entertainment Project Concept Video

Sony Space Entertainment Project Concept Video[Sony Official]