NASA has purchased 22 Leica Viva TS15 robotic total stations from Leica Geosystems to monitor critical displacements on the new Space Launch System’s RS-25 engines during a comprehensive structural test that will be performed at the Systems Integration and Test Facility at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The agency has also purchased two Leica Nova MS50 MultiStations to provide precise total station measurement and focused laser scanning of individual

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NASA has purchased the Leica Viva TS15 to monitor the Space Launch System's RS-25 engines. (Photo courtesy Leica).

components of the SLS program.  

NASA’s SLS is an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle that will provide new opportunities for scientific and human exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. The SLS will carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to deep-space destinations such as near-Earth asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and ultimately Mars. The SLS will be NASA’s first exploration-class vehicle since the Saturn V took American astronauts to the moon more than 40 years ago.

NASA plans for a first launch in 2017. The SLS liquid hydrogen tank will be crucial to the mission’s success. The core stage will be more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet and will store the cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to fuel the engines.

According to David Rutledge, the NAFTA Director of Structural Monitoring for Leica Geosystems’ Engineered Solutions business, NASA chose the Leica TS15 instruments for their ability to provide 3D displacement data on a mission critical test. The Leica MS50 instruments were chosen for their versatility in terms of integrating the scanning function into the survey workflow.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see NASA return to a Saturn V style rocket and space exploration after a more than 40-year absence,” Rutledge said. “Leica Geosystems’ instruments provide exceptionally high accuracy and outstanding performance, making them ideal for critical applications like the structural test program for the Space Launch System. We’re thrilled to be able to play a supporting role in this significant program.”