The space shuttle Discovery sits on launch pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space
Center, ready for its date with space, scheduled for 3:51 pm this
afternoon. It's the first space shuttle launch since the Columbia disaster
two years ago -- the retrofitting of the shuttle and its launch procedures
has occupied government contractors ever since.
Among the usual aerospace industry suspects that landed work on this mission
is a small private company: QuVis, with just 40 employees, in Topeka,
Kansas. The company's technology quickly transmits digital images without
distortion, as the company demonstrated to NASA over the course of 18 grueling months of testing. (Most memorable: a test that involved filming a
chunk of wood as it was tossed out of an airborne helicopter, "to see how
much detail you could see on this chunk of 2x4 from a camera that's a mile
downrange," says Jim Graham, vice president of sales and marketing.) It's a
new kind of client for the company, which previously worked for movie
studios and theme parks. How did they land their first contract on such a
high profile mission? And what's it like to go from glamorous Hollywood to
government work? For details read this story.