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ISS partners rule out turning life on orbiter into reality show


MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - Roscosmos and NASA have decided not to pursue a U.S.-initiated idea to make life on the International Space Station (ISS) a reality show, the Russian Space Agency announced on Thursday.

Views of Earth from the space station will be streamed round-the-clock on the NASA web site using cameras mounted on the exterior of the orbiter, but the activities of crewmembers monitored on interior cameras will not be shown.

"The transmission will be shown using several cameras set up on the external surface of the ISS and if for some technical reason the picture does not reach Earth, then [Internet] users will be shown a map from [Russia's] Mission Control illustrating the trajectory of the ISS in orbit," the Roscosmos statement said.

In the fall of 2008, the U.S. space agency began transmitting audio signals between the ISS crewmembers and an operational group on Earth. A bit later the idea of transmitting video surfaced.

However, a number of U.S. astronauts and Russian cosmonauts reacted negatively to the idea. Roscosmos also noted that the psychological effect of such experiments during long-duration stays in orbit had not been researched.

The current ISS crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and U.S. astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus.

NASA is due to launch the space shuttle Discovery to the ISS on Sunday. Discovery's STS-119 flight is delivering the space station's fourth and final of solar array. The solar panels will provide additional electricity to fully power science experiments and support the station's expanded crew when it increases from three to six in May.

Commander Lee Archambault is joined on the mission by pilot Tony Antonelli and mission specialists Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, John Phillips and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will replace Magnus, who has been aboard the station for more than four months. He will return to Earth during the next station shuttle mission, STS-127, scheduled for June 2009.

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