Sony launches into space with remote controllable satellite camera

Sony STARSPHERE concept image
(Image credit: Sony)

CES is usually the place where companies show off what is next in consumer technology, so naturally, we don't see many announcements about the ordinarily inaccessible space exploration. However this year, Sony has decided to bring space-bound photography to the masses with its latest user-controllable satellite camera system which is called STAR SPHERE.

There are numerous incredible smart telescopes (opens in new tab) and telescopes for astrophotography (opens in new tab) for seeing out into the vast expanses of space and taking beautiful images, but it is not easy to turn that around and take stunning images and videos of the Earth itself – until now that is!

Check out the teaser video for Sony's new STAR SPHERE service, which was launched at CES 2023.

Sony's STAR SPHERE promises 'to bring space closer to everyone' with a unique service allowing anyone to sign up and take photos and videos using the orbiting camera to acquire their own unique 'space perspectives'.

Sony has separated the services available into two tiers. The lower tier will allow users to join the satellite on its pre-determined route, which will be set by the time, day, and orbit of the earth. Sony has also teased some special routes that have been curated by (as yet unnamed) leading experts on space exploration or the natural world. Users at any point can snap photos or videos from the satellite for their own use.

The additional tier of the service allows any user to book an exclusive and private 90-minute orbit around the earth, this allows the user to control not only the time and date of their shoot, but also control the camera direction, zoom, and angle for a unique photography or videography experience. 

There are 16 possible orbits to choose from, which will take the satellite one full circle of the Earth in 90 minutes. There is a pretty large caveat with this service though, in that you only actually get 10 minutes of your 90 minutes to actually shoot in. Users can capture 50 images or 30 seconds of video, but there is the option to pay to extend these amounts.

No pricing information has been released yet, but this certainly doesn't sound like it will be cheap! The service is beginning later in 2023, with trials in the United States and Japan only for the time being, and you can begin registering to 'join the crew' (opens in new tab) on the STAR SPHERE website.

The camera has been designed to show off the strides that Sony has made in sensor and optical technology. It uses a full-frame (35mm) camera sensor that has been developed and built by Sony, alongside a Sony 28-135mm f/4 lens. Just like a consumer Sony camera (opens in new tab), users can update the aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation to achieve the look they want for their images.

The satellite will orbit at 500-600km (310-372 miles) and will be controllable in real-time with live images beamed directly via Sony's STAR SPHERE Simulator online.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding STAR SPHERE, but as serious space enthusiasts here at Digital Camera World, the announcement has us itching to try out the new system!

If you can't get enough space then you can check out our coverage of the latest space images from the James Webb Telescope (opens in new tab). To get your own unique views of space you can check out our guides to the best telescopes for astrophotography (opens in new tab), the best smart telescopes (opens in new tab), and the best-computerized telescopes (opens in new tab).

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Gareth Bevan
Reviews Editor

Gareth is a photographer based in London, working as a freelance photographer and videographer for the past several years, having the privilege to shoot for some household names. With work focusing on fashion, portrait and lifestyle content creation, he has developed a range of skills covering everything from editorial shoots to social media videos. Outside of work, he has a personal passion for travel and nature photography, with a devotion to sustainability and environmental causes.