Why don't the ISS cameras ever experience technical problems at night? I never have seen the banner flash on the screen stating they are experiencing technical difficulties or switching cameras. Also, how cheap are these cameras and why would you waste potential expensive time replacing this type camera and not use high quality? It would be the first time I heard of a US government agency trying to be frugal.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you referring to the HDEV cameras? $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ In that case you don't read much news about the US government. Frugality compromises are part of almost every post-Apollo science spaceflight mission. You might say fugally ended Apollo. For something newer, look at the amazingly frugal CYGNSS mission, for example here youtu.be/lXDBaQJI7-8?t=813 and especially here youtu.be/lXDBaQJI7-8?t=1662. The design of those satellites and how they maneuver raises frugality to a high art! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 1:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to stackexchange! Take the tour. Can you focus on one question at a time? You can ask more of course. If you want to propose that the cameras are cheap and not high quality and make that a part of your question, you should explain better why you believe that is true, and add some links. See types of questions to avoid and how to ask a good question. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ Have you read space.stackexchange.com/questions/4771/… ? $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ Your premise is faulty. ISS HDEV is a payload, not vehicle hardware. Its purpose is to test how well COTS cameras withstand the space environment. The live stream views of earth are just a happy side effect, not the raison d'etre. $\endgroup$
    – Tristan
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


The technical difficulties NASA refers to are those regarding communications (LOS) with the space station's feed and/or cameras switching. The ISS tracking stations lose contact with the space station during certain times of the orbit.

Also, don't compare consumer-level electronics with those used in aerospace. Lots of factors such as temperature resistance, radiation hardening, camera interface, power requirements, etc. go into choosing or designing a camera to go on the ISS.


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