John Glenn's Space Flight To Be Broadcast Nationwide In HDTV:Broadcast Launches Digital Television Rollout

October 14, 1998

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL - When the space shuttle Discovery lifts John Glenn into space later this month, it also will be launching a new era in television - the national rollout of digital television.

Harris Corporation has announced that it will conduct the first live digital high definition television (HDTV) broadcast of a space shuttle launch to audiences nationwide on October 29 - 36 years after Senator Glenn's first historic flight was broadcast in black and white. The company is conducting the broadcast with assistance from WRAL-HD in Raleigh, North Carolina and with the participation of the NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

The scheduled 70-minute telecast will be transmitted live from Kennedy Space Center to more than 15 broadcast stations throughout the United States. The stations will broadcast the program over the air to numerous host viewing sites, including the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., consumer electronics stores and other locations. Audiences at many of these sites will view the program on new digital television receivers and projectors that are arriving in stores for the first time this month.

Along with live coverage of the launch, the network news-style program will feature high definition interviews by WRAL with Senator Glenn and former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, who covered the early space shots including Glenn's first launch into space. It also will include converted historical footage of the space program, and other live and recorded segments. The telecast will be anchored by Mary Alice Williams, formerly of CNN and NBC, and Pete Conrad, an Apollo astronaut who walked on the moon in 1969. The program is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. EST.

The broadcast sets the stage for the rollout of digital television in the U.S., which is targeted to get underway November 1, when about 40 stations will be broadcasting a digital signal in markets across the country. Many of those stations are planning to move their on-air dates ahead of schedule to show the Harris broadcast.

"When John Glenn last orbited the Earth, he was riding in a tiny capsule and we were watching him on grainy, black and white television images. This historic launch and digital television broadcast will demonstrate to the world how far the space program and television technology have come," said Phillip W. Farmer, chairman and chief executive officer of Harris Corporation.

Harris Corporation is overseeing the production and broadcast of the program. WRAL-HD, the first station to send out a commercial digital signal in 1996, is providing technical input, editing equipment, as well as several high definition vignettes shot in Houston and Washington, D.C. NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation is providing the High Definition production equipment and engineering expertise through NHK Enterprises America, Inc., and will transmit a delayed broadcast of the program over its HD network in Japan.

Other organizations involved with the Harris broadcast include Allbritton Jacksonville, Inc., All-Stars Communications, EF Data, Kodak, Newtec America, Turner Engineering, Inc., Unity Motion, and Vinten. Television set manufacturers loaning products include Ampro, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, and Zenith.

The program also will break new ground in another way - becoming the first nationwide digital high definition broadcast to include commercials. Procter & Gamble will have commercials representing several of their product lines, including: Tide, Pampers, Bounty, Scope, and Head & Shoulders.

Harris Corporation

The leader in advanced transmitter equipment and systems for digital television, Harris has signed agreements to provide DTV transmitters for hundreds of U.S. television stations. Harris also provided complete transmitters for six of the U.S.' seven experimental DTV stations: WCBS (New York), WRAL (Raleigh, N.C.), WETA (Washington, D.C.), KCTS (Seattle), Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland), and WHD, the nation's model station located in Washington, D.C.

Harris Corporation, with worldwide sales of $3.9 billion, is an international communications and electronics company focused on providing product, system and service solutions that take its customers to the next level. The company provides a wide range of products and services such as wireless and personal communications, automotive electronics, transportation, business information, defense communications and information, and Lanier office products.

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For additional information contact Harris Corporation at webmaster@harris.com.