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International Space Station to get new Canadian-made vision system

Posted by in Science & Technology on Thursday, January 7, 2016

A computer-generated image shows Dextre, the ISS's robotic handyman, holding the new Canadian-designed vision system. (Photo: Canadian Space Agency, Neptec)

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon have more time to focus on science, thanks to a Canadian innovation that aims to take a few maintenance chores off their hands.

Canada is investing $1.7 million in a new vision system for Dextre, the ISS's robotic handyman, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced Thursday. Using a 3D laser, a high-definition camera, and an infrared camera, Dextre’s new vision system will help spot signs of damage on the station's ageing external infrastructure.

The investment solidifies Canada's position as a world leader in space robotics and optics, said Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development at the CSA's headquarters in St-Hubert, Que.

"The Government of Canada is pleased to contribute this new technology that combines these strengths, while giving the world a new vantage point on the International Space Station," Bains said.

Ottawa-based Neptec Ltd is designing the vision system, which is expected to launch in 2020. Roughly the size of a microwave oven, the system will be able to reveal damage that may be invisible to the naked eye or that is located in hard-to-reach places.

The system will cut down on the number of risky spacewalks undertaken by astronauts and also provide new images of the ISS to the public.

Meet the Canadian astronauts who have lived aboard the ISS
Canada in Space: Exploring the past, present and future

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