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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

3-D Software's Role In Return To Flight

Raindrop Geomagic
NASA used Geomagic Studio to create a 3-D model of the shuttle’s tiles.
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Geomagic Studio, Raindrop Geomagic's (Research Triangle Park, NC) reverse-engineering software, played a critical role in scanning the shuttle for damage just prior to docking with the International Space Station.

As the shuttle neared the space station, it rolled over to expose its underside. Video surveys and detailed 3-D scanning inspections using a 50-foot-long extension of the Discovery's robot arm were used to inspect for damage to the tiles underneath the wings.

The scanned data was transmitted to Houston, where Geomagic Studio was used to process the data and create a 3-D model of the damaged tiles. The 3-D model helped provide the data to create tool paths for cutting facsimiles of potentially dangerous damage into an array of test tiles. Had any tiles been damaged, the reproductions of the damaged tiles would have been tested in NASA's ArcJet facility to see if the shuttle could withstand the heat and stress of reentry.



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