Space Station assembly arm exploits vision technology

APRIL 30--The recently launched Canadarm2 Space Station on Space Shuttle Endeavour contains four cameras and video-processing electronics from DALSA Corp. (Waterloo, Ont., Canada; www.dalsa.com).

APRIL 30--The recently launched Canadarm2 Space Station on Space ShuttleEndeavour contains four cameras and video-processing electronics from DALSA Corp. (Waterloo, Ont., Canada; www.dalsa.com). These cameras are enabling the large, mechanical, hinged-arm-shaped apparatus of Canadarm2 to see and operate at 300 km above the Earth's surface.

Now secured to the International Space Station, the Canadarm2 will be used to repair and maintain the station during the service periods expected for its many years in space. The cameras on Canadarm2 will allow the astronauts to see, monitor, and manipulate tasks while they direct the functions and movements of the mechanical arm positioned on the exterior of the space station. Among others, these tasks include assembling, attaching, and adjusting new space modules after they arrive on future shuttle flights.

The cameras contain CCD image sensors and processing electronics for image capture. The captured images are delivered to computers, which read and display the images to the astronauts in the Space Station, allowing them to control the Canadarm2.

In developing the cameras and associated electronics, DALSA engineers worked closely with engineering teams from OCA, which is now BF Goodrich Aerospace Division, and Spar Aerospace, now MD Robotics. Says Savvas Chamberlain, DALSA chief executive officer, "The Canadarm2 is a Canadian success with contributions from many high-technology companies across the country. It was gratifying to be chosen to supply the Canadarm2 with our vision technology, especially considering the rigorous vendor screening and selection process."

To see images and photos from the International Space Station with the Canadarm2, go to www.shuttlepresskit.com.

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