A Japanese ISP is using today’s space shuttle launch to test a high-quality video streaming system.

Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ) will provide live video of the launch to a handful of cable TV networks in Japan using digital video over IP (DVoIP), a technology that allows the transmission of uncompressed video across an IP link. The video stream’s speed will be about 30Mbps (megabits per second).

There is great interest in shuttle mission STS-114 in Japan, because the crew includes Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut from JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Noguchi is scheduled to make three space walks as part of the mission.

The video feed will be transmitted from Kennedy Space Centre to JAXA in Tokyo via satellite, from where it will be picked up by IIJ and converted into a form suitable for streaming. The DVoIP system will carry it across IIJ's IP backbone to cable TV networks, where it will be converted back into a conventional TV signal for viewing on television.

Use of the DVoIP system is common in academic and experimental networks but this test, which will actually take place early on Thursday morning as a result of the time difference between Tokyo and Cape Canaveral, is unusual because it is being done with commercial entities. As part of the trial IIJ will be collecting data on network and applications quality in the hope of improving the system in the future.