Government Partnership Driving Design of Leading-Edge Technologies

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Neptec's Laser Vision System Supporting Shuttle Missions

OTTAWA, August 8, 2001 - A new Canadian-made Space Vision Laser Camera System will be onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (Mission STS-105) when it launches on August 9, 2001, thanks in large part to the strategic partnership of the Industry Portfolio through Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

"The development of the Laser Camera and the Space Vision System is an outstanding example of cooperation between the Government of Canada and the private sector to support the design of world-class innovative technologies," said the Honourable Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Space Agency. "Canadian expertise and leading-edge technology are, once again, being sought to help build the largest international engineering project ever undertaken, the International Space Station."

Neptec Design Group developed this eye-safe laser technology that will allow astronauts to work more effectively with the Canadarm and Canadarm2. Among its other features, the system is able to analyze images to precisely determine the position of objects in space. It is also capable of collecting precise three-dimensional images of those objects, even in the harsh lighting conditions of space.

"The New Space Vision System is enhanced with a laser camera system that will improve the user friendliness of the Shuttle and Station Canadarms and markedly contribute to the safe and accurate movement of materials required to construct the international space station," said Paul Nephin, President of Neptec. "We are proud that our Canadian company and Canadian scientific talent and technology are contributing to this international engineering project."

This highly innovative laser vision system was developed by Neptec in collaboration with the National Research Council and the CSA. The project received a TPC repayable investment of $6.15 million coupled with $2.9 million awarded by the CSA. PRECARN, a member-driven consortium of Canadian companies, research organizations and government agencies, has also partnered in this technology initiative, contributing expertise and $430,000 to the development of this specialized space laser-measurement device.

The TPC and CSA investments in the Neptec initiative are also leading to breakthroughs in future, previously unthinkable projects. These investments will see the development of a light detection and ranging (lidar) navigational system that will replace the Shuttles' rendezvous radar and will eventually provide a landing aid for Mars and comet-bound space craft.

TPC is a technology investment fund established in 1996 to contribute to the achievement of Canada's objectives of increasing economic growth, creating jobs and wealth, and supporting sustainable development. TPC supports and advances Government of Canada initiatives by investing strategically in research, development and innovation in order to encourage private sector investment and so maintain and grow the technology base and technological capabilities of Canadian industry. TPC also encourages the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in all regions of Canada.

The Canadian Space Agency was established in 1989 with headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec. It coordinates all aspects of the Canadian Space Program. Through its Space Knowledge, Applications and Industry Development business line, the CSA delivers services involving: Earth and the Environment; Space Science; Human Presence in Space; Satellite Communications; Generic Space Technologies; Space Qualification Services and Awareness. The Canadian Space Agency is at the forefront of the development and application of space knowledge for the benefit of Canadians and humanity.

Funding for this project was provided for in the February 2000 budget and is therefore built into the existing financial framework.

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For more information, please contact:

Heidi Bonnell
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Industry
(613) 995-9001

Canadian Space Agency
Media Relations Office
(450) 926-4370

Paul Johnston
VP Operations
(613) 727-9507, Ext. 226

John Brunet
Deputy Executive Director and Director Aerospace and Defence
Technology Partnerships Canada
(613) 941-6738

Paul Nephin
Neptec Design Group Inc.
(613) 599-7603

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