Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains made the announcement Thursday morning at the Canadian Space Agency in St. Hubert, on Montreal’s South Shore.
The government awarded Ottawa-based Neptec Design Group a $1.7 million contract to develop the design for the system.
The microwave-oven sized system will help inspect the Space Station’s external surfaces, searching for damages.
The ISS is regularly hit by small meteorites and orbital debris, and in many cases the damage is hidden to the naked eye.
The new vision system will include a 3D laser, a high-definition camera and an infrared camera.
It will be attached to Dextre, the CSA’s robotic helper on board the International Space Station and could mean fewer dangerous and risky space walks for astronauts doing maintenance work.
“Investing in the optical technology in space will also give Canadians an edge here on earth,” said Bains.
“The technology has useful applications in mining, undersea oil and gas infrastructure and self driving vehicles, all very neat innovations.”
Dextre’s new vision system will be operated by mission controllers on the ground at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas or at the CSA’s headquarters.
The government hopes the system will be ready to be launched in 2020.
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