Canada's main contribution to the US Space Shuttle program has been the Canadian Space Agency robotic manipulator arms, Canadarm and Canadarm2.
Also called the Space Station Remote Manipulator System, the second-generation Canadarm2 helped build the International Space Station, and has been used there to support astronauts working in space, move equipment and supplies, perform maintenance, and manipulate large payloads.
The CSA has unveiled its third-generation Canadarm prototypes, known as the Next-Generation Canadarm (NGC) project. It consists of four robotic elements -- the Large Canadarm, Small Canadarm, Proximity Operations Systems Testbed, and Semi-Autonomous Docking System -- and the Missions Operations Station. The testbed comprises two industrial robotic systems that will simulate bringing two moving spacecraft within a few meters of each other. The mission operations station allows all of the NGC systems to be operated remotely. Combined, all five form a facility the CSA says will help it test and develop new mission concepts and hardware.
Click on the image below to check out the evolution of the Canadarm.
The NGC Large Canadarm is a 15m robotic arm that fits inside a minivan when its segments are telescoped together. Although its reach is as long as Canadarm2's, it is lighter and folds up more compactly to fit on future, smaller spacecraft. It will be used on Earth as a testbed to simulate arm deployment during tasks such as capturing and docking spacecraft for refueling. (Source: NASA)
Ann, thanks for a great slideshow. It is both amazing and a tribute to all the engineers and technicians that brought this project to fruition. A 30 year run of the basic arm and improvements made during the long deployment make this an exceptional feat. I'm sure the new NGC will be equally impressive.
Rob, I haven't seen any robotics research coming from Canada except for the Canadarm. OTOH, the Canadarm has been a massive, 30-year project commanding a lot of resources and many, many different technologies. It's also been vital to the functioning of both the shuttle and the space station.
TJ, the blue supports in the first photo weren't identified. I would think that the answer to your question about the end effector's history is available on the web. The Canadian Space Agency's website is pretty extensive, and there's also this source: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
Ann, if you mean Mcdonnel Douglas, then the answer is no. One thing that was nice at the MacDonald Dettwiler facility in Vancouver was that Friday's were beer days. At the end of the day everyone would get together in the cafeteria and the beer cooler would be unlocked. There was a great selection of good Canadian beers and we would all have two or three and socialize. It was a lot of fun.
Nice slide show, Ann. Since you have covered tons of stories regarding robotics, I'm curious as to how Canada stacks up against the robotics that are getting developed here in the U.S., particularly by the military. Is Canada a contender?
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