Laser Camera System (LCS)
Neptec Design Group
Houston, TX

Prior to this summer’s launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, NASA installed a number of technologies to inspect the shuttle, both at launch and in orbit. The outside of Discovery’s external fuel tank was a potential source of foam loss that could have caused damage to the shuttle during re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. To ensure the shuttle’s safe return, NASA used Neptec’s Laser Camera System (LCS) to inspect critical areas of the shuttle’s exterior while in orbit. The LCS was mounted to an inspection boom on the orbiter’s Canadarm system. It provided NASA ground crew with a 3D image of the area, enabling engineers to tangibly determine whether the area needed to be repaired.

Neptec also provided the Orbiter Space Vision System (OSVS) to support the mission of the shuttle Atlantis, which launched last month. The mission was to bring a new integrated truss section to the International Space Station (ISS). A docking and assembly system, the OSVS was used to provide information to astronauts to maneuver and attach the new segment to the ISS. The OSVS uses cameras and a system of black and white dots known as target arrays to continuously monitor the position of the ISS and the segment. Data is provided to the astronauts, who then maneuver the Canadarm2 to align the two structures and complete the assembly.

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NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2006 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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