Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 09:49 AM CDT

Space Shuttle Relies on Adimec's Cameras for Critical Inspection

gouged tile on the Space Shuttle Endeavou
An Adimec camera captured this picture of a gouged tile during a recent mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was one of more than 1,500 images taken by the camera system.

The recent Space Shuttle Endeavour mission relied on images from Adimec's (Stoneham, Mass.) cameras to determine the threat of damage from a well-publicized gouge in the heat shield. During launch, a piece of foam insulation came off of a bracket on the external fuel tank, bounced off of a strut and damaged the underside tiles of the Endeavour.

To analyze the re-entry risks and determine if a space walk was necessary, the shuttle astronauts took more than 1,500 high-resolution images from the Adimec camera system. These images were gathered and analyzed to assess the risk of the 3 ˝-inch-long and 2-inch-wide gouge as well as a few other damaged areas of the heat shield. Adimec's cameras also took images of the damaged heat-resistant carbon composite panels and tiles to help determine if the shuttle would be cleared for landing. Mission STS-118 was the fifth shuttle mission to use Adimec's advanced camera technology as part of an imaging system to ensure shuttle safety.

"We are pleased that images from our cameras were able to play an important role in helping the shuttle and crew fly home safely," said Jay Rice, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Adimec in North America. "Once again we were very happy to be included in NASA's Shuttle mission and to support NASA and its astronauts."

NASA needed high-performance cameras with enough durability and performance to provide flawless images in the void of space and on the space shuttle. Adimec supplied multiple high-performance cameras that are coupled to a Pleora iPort IP™ engine. This enables high-resolution images to be streamed to a laptop inside the shuttle over a standard Ethernet link. The imaging system is mounted at the end of the space shuttle's 50-foot robotic arm and is controlled by the crew. NASA's orbital boom sensor system (OBSS) on this robotic arm is used to inspect and measure defects in the shuttle's outer "skin," particularly in the heat tile area, the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) wing, and the nose cap.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour and its crew landed on Aug. 21 after a 12-day journey in space. Adimec provided the high-resolution cameras that were part of the OBSS of the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-121, the Space Shuttle Atlantis mission STS-115, the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 and 117, and now the Space Shuttle Endeavour mission STS-118. The mission succeeded in adding a new piece to the International Space Station and transferring 5,800 pounds of equipment and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

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