Vista Photonics to Build Sensor for the International Space Station


Santa Fe, NM, June 10, 2013: NASA has let a contract with Vista Photonics, Inc. to design and build an Optical Life Gas Analyzer (OLGA) for deployment to the International Space Station (ISS).


The OLGA sensor will be integrated into the existing configurations aboard the ISS.  The sensor is a single, portable device that can detect multiple gases currently measured on ISS by several portable devices designed to monitor oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and ammonia. This multi-gas monitor is the first application of laser spectroscopy technology for simultaneous measurement of multiple gases in the spacecraft cabin environment.  The OLGA device is scheduled for delivery to the ISS via the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in November 2013.  Dr. Jeffrey S. Pilgrim, Principal Investigator for the project stated, "We've been developing this flexible sensor platform since 2009, and it looks like everyone's hard work is paying off.  If the OLGA sensor weren't so compact, I'd try to stow away in it!"  Along with monitoring the health and safety of the crew in space, there are potential applications on Earth that include environmental and atmospheric research, biomedical breath-based diagnostics, trace contaminant monitoring in manufacturing, and food quality assurance.  Out of the hundreds of experiments going to the ISS, the OLGA monitor was one of five highlighted by Johnson Space Center ISS Program Scientist Tara Rutley during the NASA press conference televised on May 22, 2013 (click here for YouTube video).


Vista Photonics was established in 2003 by Dr. Jeffrey S. Pilgrim for the purpose of research and development of laser based trace gas sensors.  Vista Photonics has developed world-class laser sensing techniques and incorporates them into commercial instrumentation for high-performance optical detection technologies. We develop technologies in markets where we can offer a clear competitive advantage and through strategic partnerships with established instrumentation manufacturers. The research staff has extensive experience in the development of optical trace gas detection instrumentation.  The Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program has provided numerous opportunities for Vista Photonics to partner with government agencies to grow its research and manufacturing business. In addition to NASA, customers include the Department of Energy, USDA, and the Department of Defense (Navy).


Vista Photonics has received numerous awards recognizing its successful growth as a premier developer of trace gas detection monitors (New Mexico Flying 40, New Mexico Private 100, the University of Georgia Bulldog 100). In 2010, the company was recognized by Century Bank and the Chamber of Commerce as the Business Excellence Award winner for companies with 6 to 20 employees.


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