Company that developed space cameras not affected by actions against Russia

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MONTREAL – A top official with the Vancouver company behind two cameras on the International Space Station says it hasn’t been affected by actions taken against Russia over its involvement in Ukraine.

The situation is “unsettling and hasn’t been helpful” but has had no effect on the operations of UrtheCast Corp., CEO Scott Larson said in a statement Thursday.

Except for co-operation related to the space station, NASA has severed ties with Russia and its employees are prohibited from travelling there.

But Larson pointed out that travel by his employees hasn’t been affected.

“We’ve got engineers going to Russia all the time,” he said. “People are over there for two weeks at a time and back for two weeks and back and forth, so it hasn’t had an impact.”

NASA said in a statement Wednesday it will continue to work with the Russian space agency to maintain continuous operation of the space station.

But in a memo sent to workers, NASA has barred its employees from emailing or holding teleconferences with their Russian counterparts.

Some Canadian businesses with ties to Russia have expressed concerns they could be affected by federal sanctions against Russia.

Larson pointed out that in the past, the space outpost has survived much worse in terms of geopolitical conflicts, citing Afghanistan as one of many examples.

“This isn’t the first time that there’s been some disagreement between the various partners of the International Space Station and they’ve seemed to be able to figure it out,” he added.

When contacted, the Canadian Space Agency had no comment on NASA’s moves. A CSA official would only say it had nothing to add.

Two UrtheCast cameras — one that shoots photos, the other video — were successfully installed on the exterior of Russian section of the space station in January by two cosmonauts.

UrtheCast (TSX:UR), which partnered on the project with Russian aerospace firm RSC Energia, also announced the release of its first Earth photos. They were captured March 28 by its still camera.

Larson called it a “big milestone,” coming just three years after the company first started.

One image is centred around the city of Moneague, Jamaica. The second is a view of the urban area surrounding Santa Cruz de Mara, Venezuela.

— With files from The Associated Press

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