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  • Neptec System Boards Atlantis
Jun 2007
OTTAWA, Canada, June 8, 2007 -- NASA's STS-117 mission marks the 20th flight for the Space Vision System (SVS) created by Neptec Design Group, an Ottawa developer of 3-D vision systems for military, manufacturing and aerospace applications.

Designed to help construct the International Space Station (ISS), the SVS provides astronauts with position and attitude cues during assembly.
One of NASA’s multipurpose logistics modules. The black-and-white dots are the target array that the Space Vision system uses as reference points when lining up two structures. These dots are used with the SVS to line up the truss segment to the International Space Station. (Photos courtesy Neptec Design Group)
The mission, scheduled for launch today at 7:38 p.m. EDT, is the 21st shuttle mission to the ISS. It also marks the fifth flight for Neptec's laser camera system (LCS), which is used to perform focused inspections of any potential damage sites to determine if critical damage has occurred to the shuttle’s exterior and to help NASA ensure the shuttle is safe for re-entry.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is set to deliver the second and third starboard truss segment (S3/S4) to the ISS. The segment weighs 17.5 tons and will be installed to the starboard side of the ISS using the SVS and the Canadarm. The SVS is a docking and assembly system that uses cameras and a system of black-and-white dots, known as target arrays, to maneuver and attach a segment the size of a city bus to the space station. Once the 45-foot segment is attached to the ISS, the crew will unfold the photovoltaic solar arrays, which will provide the station with additional power.
Close-up of the laser camera system, which will scan critical areas of the thermal tiles to ensure the shuttle is safe to return to earth.(Images courtesy Neptec Design Group)
Since the Return to Flight STS-114 mission in 2005, the LCS has been used by NASA to scan the exterior of the shuttle for damage to the thermal tiles that may occur during takeoff. With the ability to detect tiny cracks from up to four meters away, the LCS can scan the exterior of the shuttle prior to re- entering the earth’s atmosphere. Should a critical area be detected, the LCS will be used to create a 3-D model allowing NASA to determine if the area needs to be repaired in orbit.

Iain Christie, President of Neptec, siad, "Twenty-five missions is an impressive milestone. We would not have reached it without the help and support of our many partners including the Canadian Space Agency. Our success as a prime contractor to NASA is the basis on which we are growing and diversifying the company. The technology that we developed and deployed on the Space Shuttle has spun off applications in space as well as sectors such as military sensors and industrial robotics."

Larisa Beach, vice president of Space Robotic Sensors at Neptec, added, "The SVS is a great example of Canada’s contribution in the building of the International Space Station and a demonstration of how international partners can come together to realize a singular vision." atlantis.jpg
Left: A shot from the STS-114 mission of the Laser Camera System scanning the thermal tiles; below: graphical image of the International Space Station  (ISS-2005). (Images courtesy Neptec Design Group)
Rick Sturckow will command the mission and Lee Archambault will serve as Atlantis' pilot. Mission Specialists Patrick Forrester, James Reilly, Steven Swanson, John Olivas and Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson round out the crew to deliver the S3/S4 starboard truss segments, batteries and another pair of solar arrays to the space station.

Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Sunita L. Williams will return to Earth from the space station aboard shuttle mission STS-117. That flight will carry Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer Clayton C. Anderson to the station. He will return home aboard Discovery on mission STS-120.

All systems onboard the space shuttle are functioning normally and ready for liftoff, NASA said today at 2:25 p.m., when its final inspection team -- also known as the "Ice Team" -- was at the launch pad inspecting the space shuttle's exterior. It said there is an 80 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time. The loading of Atlantis' external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen began at 9:55 a.m. The "topping off" of propellants into the tank will continue until launch.

For more information, visit:

Live launch countdown coverage is available at NASA's Launch Blog.

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