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Kodak Digital Technology to Provide Mission-Critical Images for Space Flight

Kodak CCD Image Sensors used on both Space Shuttle and International Space Station for Key Imaging Applications

Press Release—On the current mission of space shuttle Discovery, scheduled to dock with the International Space Station today, Kodak Digital Technology will again be instrumental in capturing critical images and helping to safeguard the well-being of shuttle astronauts during re-entry back to earth.

Kodak CCD Image Sensors are a key component of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, an in-flight imaging system attached to the end of a 50-foot robotic arm that is used by shuttle astronauts to scan the underside of the orbiter for possible damage before landing. The resulting high-resolution images are then analyzed to assess any potential spacecraft damage that may have occurred during lift-off or while in flight. This system is now available throughout the entire shuttle fleet to examine critical external surfaces before re-entry.

Kodak CCD Image Sensors are also routinely used in other camera systems operated by astronauts during shuttle missions and on the International Space Station. The handheld digital cameras used by astronauts to capture images from space use Kodak Image Sensors, as does the recently launched Earth Viewing Camera located on the International Space Station. Surprisingly, these space-based products all use image sensors that are unmodified from those available from Kodak for use on earth.

“Kodak has a long history of participation in the space program dating back to the first flights by Mercury astronauts, and we are proud to see this heritage continue with the use of Kodak Digital Image Sensors today,” said Chris McNiffe, General Manager of Kodak’s Image Sensor Solutions Group. “Kodak is known as a supplier of the highest quality, and the use of commercially available products on both the space shuttle as well as the International Space Station is a testament to the performance and reliability of our CCD image sensors.”

Used across the shuttle fleet, the Orbital Boom Sensor System (OBSS) incorporates a camera designed by Adimec, a leading producer of advanced camera systems located in the Netherlands. The camera is based on the Kodak KAI-2093 Image Sensor, a 1,920 x 1,080 interline transfer CCD imager that provides up to 30 images per second for high-definition image capture. Added to the OBSS after the “Return to Flight” mission of Discovery in 2005, this camera is used to inspect the leading edges of the wings, nose cap, and crew compartment after each lift-off and before each landing. The OBSS is scheduled to be used on the space shuttle Discovery (STS-124) mission that launched on May 31, 2008.

The Earth Viewing Camera is a fixed-point Earth-observing camera located on the International Space Station, designed to capture color images of the Earth’s surface to help increase public awareness of the Space Station. Installed in February 2008, the camera is based on the Kodak KAI-4021 Image Sensor, a 4-megapixel device that includes electronic shuttering capability, a feature critical to preserving the robustness of this camera design by eliminating the need for a mechanical shutter.

Since 1995, shuttle astronauts have used a series of handheld Kodak Professional DCS Cameras to capture high-resolution images of their activities while in space. These cameras, all utilizing Kodak CCD Image Sensors, have to date captured over 130,000 total images, and remain in operation today for use on both the shuttle as well as the International Space Station. The Kodak KAF-6303 Image Sensor, a 6-megapixel device used for medical and scientific imaging applications, is a derivative of the sensor used in those cameras, and remains available today.

In addition to operation on the shuttle fleet and the International Space Station, Kodak CCD Image Sensors can also be found in orbit around the Earth, Mars, and Venus, as well as on the surface of Mars (as well as the Earth). Upcoming missions will expand the use of Kodak Image Sensors to include satellites in orbit around both the Moon and Jupiter.