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Crewman Optical Alignment Sight

The crewman optical alignment sight is used if inertial measurement unit alignment is in error by more than 1.4 degrees, rendering the star tracker unable to acquire and track stars. The COAS must be used to realign the IMUs to within 1.4 degrees. The star trackers can then be used to realign the IMUs more precisely.

The COAS is mounted at the commander's station so the crew can check for proper attitude orientation during ascent and deorbit thrusting periods. For on-orbit operations, the COAS at the commander's station is removed and installed next to the aft flight deck overhead right minus Z window.

The COAS is an optical device with a reticle projected on a combining glass that is focused on infinity. The reticle consists of 10-degree-wide vertical and horizontal cross hairs with 1-degree marks and an elevation scale on the right side of minus 10 to 31.5 degrees. A light bulb with variable brightness illuminates the reticle. The COAS requires 115-volt ac power for reticle illumination. The COAS is 9.5 by 6 by 4.3 inches and weighs 2.5 pounds.

After mounting the COAS at the aft flight station, the flight crew member must manually maneuver the orbiter until the selected star is in the field of view. The crew member maneuvers the orbiter so that the star crosses the center of the reticle. At the instant of the crossing, the crew member makes a mark by depressing the most convenient att ref push button; the three att ref push buttons are located on panels F6, F8 and A6. At the time of the mark, software stores the gimbal angles of the three IMUs. This process can be repeated if the accuracy of the star's centering is in doubt. When the crew member feels a good mark has been taken, the software is notified to accept it. Good marks for two stars are required for an IMU alignment. The separation between the two stars should be between 60 and 120 degrees.

By knowing the star being sighted and the COAS's location and mounting relationship in the orbiter, software can determine a line-of-sight vector from the COAS to the star in an inertial coordinate system. Line-of-sight vectors to two stars define the attitude of the orbiter in inertial space. This attitude can be compared to the attitude defined by the IMUs and can be realigned to the more correct orientation by the COAS sightings if the IMUs are in error.

The COAS's mounting relative to the navigation base on which the IMUs are mounted is calibrated before launch. The constants are stored in software, and COAS line-of-sight vectors are based on known relationships between the COAS line of sight and the navigation base.

COAS can also be used to visually track targets during proximity operations or to visually verify tracking of the correct star by the minus Z star tracker.

COAS data processing is accomplished in the star tracker SOP. This SOP accepts and stores crew inputs on COAS location, star identification or calibration mode; accepts marks; computes and stores the line-of-sight vectors; enables IMU alignment when two marks have been accepted; and computes, updates and provides display data.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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