TV ad makes the big leap into space

The first ever TV commercial to be filmed entirely in space will be aired in Japan from 1 January 2002.

The ad has been created by Dentsu Inc for Otsuka Pharmaceuticals' Pocari Sweat Drink and reportedly cost 100 million yen ($ 786,000) to make. The ad features two Russian astronauts drinking the beverage at the International Space Station. The astronauts left for the station in October this year on board the Soyuz TM 33 from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

Dentsu Inc officials have described the project as "the first effort by Japan to shoot a TV commercial in space," along with "the world's first attempt to support a full-fledged commercial with high-vision shooting combined with real-time remote direction." A US firm has already produced a TV commercial featuring simple images filmed at a space station.

A camera that shot footage appropriate for high-definition television sets was installed by the National Space Development Agency in the Russian service module of the ISS, the officials said. During the 50-minute filming period, Dentsu instructed the astronauts by linking up with the ISS via a telecommunications channel, they said.

The ISS is a venture sponsored by 16 countries, including Japan, Russia and the U.S. It is scheduled to be completed in 2006.

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