Laser Camera System

Laser Camera System

Neptec Design Group's Laser Camera System (LCS) is short-range, high precision autosynchronous triangulation scanner —– or more simply, a very sensitive, highly accurate 3D scanner. Using a laser to measure the distance between itself and a variety of points on a target, the LCS is able to re-create an exact three-dimensional replica of the area it has scanned.

First demonstrated on the Shuttle Discovery Mission STS-105 in August 2001, Neptec’s prototype LCS was the first dual target tracking and imaging three-dimensional scanner to fly in space. It wasn’t until 2004, after the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy that the LCS became a primary focus to both Neptec and NASA.

To ensure the safety of future missions, NASA required a means to determine the amount of damage —– if any —– sustained by a shuttle during the launch phase. In response to this requirement, Neptec Design Group developed the Laser Camera System (LCS) —– in just 14 months, on time, and without complication. The LCS made its first mission in July 2005 on NASA’s STS-114 Return to Flight shuttle mission and is now a mandatory system for every shuttle mission.

The LCS is part of a larger sensor system that is installed on a 50-foot boom extension that provides additional reach for the Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm. This Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) is used by to the inspect areas of the shuttle that were once invisible to the astronauts inside. The LCS is used to scan and characterize the underside of the shuttle while in orbit. While looking at the shuttle’s tiles and panels from the height of a first story window, Neptec’s scanner is able to detect cracks less than a millimeter thick! Because it is a 3D scanner, it is also able to discover the depth of cracks or holes that are found. The scanner then sends these measurements to Earth where the data can be analyzed in detail by Neptec engineers in NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas. During STS-114, critical on-orbit data was often processed and in the hands of the Space Shuttle mission managers within an hour of being collected on orbit.

An absolute success, the performance of the OBSS-LCS has continually met and exceeded NASA program management’s expectations. Neptec’s LCS will continue to fly as an operational part of the OBSS on every Space Shuttle Mission.

Neptec LCS Missions:

External links

* [ Neptec Design Group, Ltd.]

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