Canadarm2 Turns 10: Canadian Space Agency Celebrates a Decade of Success

ISS026-E-033204 -- The Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle In the grasp of Canadarm2 

Image above: In the grasp of the International Space Station's Canadarm2, the Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle is moved from the space-facing side of the Harmony node back to the Earth-facing port of Harmony in March 2011. Photo credit: NASA

Ten years ago today, Canadarm2 was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard space shuttle Endeavour. A larger, more robust successor to the Shuttle’s Canadarm, Canadarm2 has provided a full decade of flawless service as the Station’s sophisticated “construction crane,” having assembled the ISS module by module in space.

Canadarm2 has unloaded hundreds of tons of equipment and supplies ferried by the shuttle and assisted almost 100 spacewalks. Endeavour’s last flight later this month will mark Canadarm2’s 28th Shuttle mission. Additionally, the robotic arm performed two “cosmic catches” where it captured, docked and later released two unpiloted Japanese resupply ships (HTV-1 and HTV-2).

Built for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Brampton, Ontario, by MDA, Canadarm2 was installed on the ISS by astronaut Chris Hadfield during the first spacewalk by a Canadian. He was assisted in this feat by NASA Astronaut Scott Parazynski. In 2006, Steve MacLean, former astronaut and current President of the Canadian Space Agency became the first Canadian ever to operate Canadarm2 in space. CSA astronauts Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk are the only other Canadians to have ever operated Canadarm2 in space. The robotic arm is routinely operated by flight controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

STS100-396-007 -- Astronaut Scott E. Parazynski works with cables associated with the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2
Astronaut Scott E. Parazynski, mission specialist, works with cables associated with the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 during one of two days of extravehicular activity during STS-100. Photo credit: NASA

Canadarm2’s role on the International Space Station will expand as the orbital lab nears completion: in addition to performing routine maintenance, the robotic arm will make more frequent cosmic catches. When the Space Shuttle retires, reusable commercial spacecraft, like SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital’s Cygnus, will be used to bring supplies and equipment to the ISS. Canadarm2 will capture each of these visiting vehicles, as well as the Japanese HTV transport vessels. In late 2011 and early 2012, Canadarm2 will capture a series of 6 commercial spacecraft in just 7 months, beginning with the Dragon spacecraft, currently scheduled to arrive in October 2011.

About the Canadian Space Agency

Established in 1989, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) coordinates all civil, space-related policies and programs on behalf of the Government of Canada. The CSA directs its resources and activities through four key thrusts: Earth Observation, Space Science and Exploration, Satellite Communications, and Space Awareness and Learning. The Agency conducts its activities through three key business lines: 

Space Utilization: serving the needs of Government Departments; Space Exploration: positioning Canadian Science and Technology to advantage in future international space exploration missions; and, Space Science and Technology: which drives synergy and builds capacity in Academia, Industry and government to respond to the current and future needs of Canada’s Space Program. By leveraging international cooperation, the CSA generates world-class scientific research and industrial development for the benefit of humanity.

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Media Relations
Canadian Space Agency

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