NASA Tests Neptec Vision System on STS-128 for Unmanned Docking Operations



    TriDAR to fill critical need in future space exploration missions

    OTTAWA, Aug. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Neptec Design Group, a leader in space,
defence and industrial systems and applications, today announced that NASA
will be conducting a Detailed Test Objective (DTO) with the company's TriDAR
vision system. The TriDAR vision system provides real-time visual guidance for
navigation, rendezvous and docking procedures and is expected to play a
critical role in future space exploration missions.
    "As the Space Shuttle completes its historic mission supporting
construction of the Space Station, the future of our international partnered
efforts in space exploration will rely heavily on our ability to execute
unmanned missions," said Steve Maclean, President, Canadian Space Agency.
"Neptec is leveraging its unique expertise to design a system that will play a
critical role in helping the space community assure the success of sending
exploratory vehicles to the moon, Mars and beyond."
    On STS-128, NASA will test the TriDAR vision system during the mission's
rendezvous, docking, undocking and fly-around operations. Using a 3D sensor
and thermal imager, TriDAR will track the International Space Station (ISS)
from the Shuttle Discovery acquiring the data needed to successfully mate the
two vehicles. The first of its kind, TriDAR does not use reflector targets and
instead guides two vehicles together by using information about the
geometrical shape of the spacecraft. This novel technology makes it possible
in the future to service spacecraft, including many satellites already in
orbit, which were not fitted with docking targets.
    "To answer the questions we have about our solar system and beyond, we
need to continue pushing the boundaries of science and engineering," said Mike
Kearns, Vice President of Space Exploration Systems, Neptec. "Whether it is
exploring the surface of the planet Mars, collecting lunar samples or
servicing satellites, we need a way to conduct missions efficiently and
without risk to human life. Executing unmanned missions is critical to our
success, and the TriDAR system is a critical component of that process."
    Developed by Neptec with the support of NASA and the Canadian Space
Agency, TriDAR has applications beyond rendezvous and docking. With short and
long-range sensing capabilities, the system is being developed as a navigation
system for lunar rovers, vehicle inspection, and will enable helicopter pilots
to land in inhospitable and obscured environments. TriDAR combines Neptec's
LIDAR technology with the functionality of Neptec's Laser Camera System (LCS)
which is used by NASA on each mission, to inspect the Shuttle for damage that
may occur during launch.

    About Neptec

    Specializing in advanced space, defense and industrial systems and
applications, Neptec maintains a reputation of quality and reliability in the
design, manufacturing, installation and support of its sensor systems with the
Space Shuttle, International Space Station, and other major space programs.
With new solutions for aerospace, defense and industry, Neptec, a NASA prime
contractor, continues to be a pioneer in the innovative use of mission
critical systems and applications. www.neptec.com.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Cerys Goodall, High Road
Communications, (416) 644-2254, cgoodall@highroad.com

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