Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Telemetrics camera control system helps NASA Atlantis countdown
With millions watching the countdown of Atlantis’ STS-135 final mission at Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 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 a custom-designed camera control system from Telemetrics, NASA’s 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 more than 250 networked cameras.
Cameras were 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.
The Telemetrics software 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.