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Sony and the DVD player phantom space launch

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Sony has invited a clutch of VIPs to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, scheduled for March 8, because it believes that five of its FX1 DVD players will be aboard and heading for the International Space Station.

Interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the fact that they are, according to a NASA researcher, mistaken. Two portable Sony FX1 DVD players are already on board the ISS, following some modification by Techtronics, having been sent up on the shuttle Atlantis.

Iin August last year, NASA approached Techtronics with a brief to modify two DVD players for the station. A Techtronics spokesman told El Reg: "They [NASA] provided our engineers detailed specification as to the type of wire to use, type of connectors and so on."

These requirements meant the work took several months per player, compared to the standard upgrade time of about half an hour, according to Techtronics.

As well as tweaking the players to withstand the unusual environment and to allow them to run off the ISS's battery packs rather than normal batteries, the player's were also adjusted so that they could play multi-region DVDs.

Our source at Techtronics told us: "Sony US got wind of this, but they apparently didn't get the details right, and were too shy to consult us or NASA."

Hence the Sony press release on February 15, which states proudly: "Sony Electronics is taking on-the-go entertainment to the next frontier. The company today announced its DVP-FX1 portable DVD player will be aboard the next Space Shuttle Discovery launch scheduled for March 8." ®

More information on the Techtronics web site.

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