Telemetrics Camera Control System Instrumental In Successful Atlantis Launch

NASA Engineers Use Custom-Designed System  During Countdown to Confirm Operation Status

For the tens of thousands of spectators who came to watch the lift-off of NASA’s final space shuttle mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 8, 2011, and the millions more who watched via TV and Internet, it was an event to remember. Between the historic nature of the launch, the uncertain weather and the dangers inherent in any mission beyond Earth’s atmosphere, the time leading up to the launch riveted the country’s attention.

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With millions watching the countdown to Atlantis’ STS-135 mission, the clock was unexpectedly stopped at T-minus 31 seconds. Engineers were unable to see whether the gaseous oxygen vent arm had fully retracted – a potentially dangerous situation. However, using the custom-designed Telemetrics camera control system, NASA engineers were able to precisely position a video camera via pan/tilt to view and confirm that the arm had retracted. With that knowledge, they gave the signal for the clock to resume countdown.

The camera control solution developed for NASA in 2007 by Telemetrics enabled NASA flight control personnel and the team of engineers to keep a close watch on virtually every square inch of the spacecraft. Using the Telemetrics RCP Touch Panel Interface and Telemetrics-designed software, the specialized system is capable of controlling over 250 networked cameras. Cameras are mounted around the launch platform in explosion-proof housings. The system’s flexible architecture accommodated various manufacturers’ control protocols, advanced camera control capabilities and various downstream processing devices such as video switchers and data interfaces for a seamless workflow solution.

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“The very nature of a shuttle launch is in itself extremely taut with pressure, but this final mission was the end of an era and the weight of that truth could be felt everywhere,” said Anthony Cuomo, Vice President and General Manager, Telemetrics, Inc. “It was immensely gratifying for Telemetrics to know that our camera control system was instrumental in the success of this historic event.”

The powerful Telemetrics software solution provided NASA operators the ability to display the cameras’ status and control the different manufacturers’ cameras, lenses and pan/tilt units. The software was deployed over a dual Ethernet connection for critical redundancy of the system. The system was also integrated with NASA’s advanced data transmission infrastructure, which provided critical information to various locations throughout the Kennedy Space Center. Video feeds from the system were made available to broadcasters covering the event.

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