Federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains announced a $1.7-million contract for an advanced visioning system for the International Space Station this morning at the Canadian Space Agency in St-Hubert, Que.

The system will be designed by Ottawa's Neptec Design Group Ltd. 

hansen and bains

Astronaut Jeremy Hansen shows Navdeep Bains a model of the International Space Station. (CBC)

The microwave-oven sized system will employ a 3D laser, a high-definition camera and an infrared camera, and be mounted on Dextre, the CSA-designed and built robot arm.

The device will be used to inspect the space station for damage caused by small meteorites and space debris and will reduce the need for spacewalks by ISS astronauts.

"Investing in the optical technology for space will also give Canadians an edge here on earth," Bains said. "The technology also has applications in mining, undersea oil and gas infrastructure, and self-driving vehicles."

Bains was joined by astronaut Jeremy Hansen and CSA president Sylvain Laporte for the announcement Thursday.