Canadarm and Canadarm2 – A comparative table

The first Canadian robotic arm to go to space
Servicing the International Space Station since 2001

Installed on each Space Shuttle and returned to Earth.

Now retired, the Canadarm is on display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

Stays permanently in space on board the International Space Station.
Range of motion Reach limited to length of arm.

Moves end-over-end to reach many parts of the International Space Station, where its anchoring "hand" plugs into a power, data, and video outlet.

Because it is mounted on the Mobile Base, the arm can travel the entire length of the Space Station.

Fixed joint Fixed to the shuttle by one end. No fixed end.
Degrees of freedom

Six degrees of freedom. Similar to a human arm:

  • Two joints in the shoulder
  • One joint in the elbow
  • Three joints in the wrist

Seven degrees of freedom. Very similar to a human arm:

  • Three joints in the shoulder
  • One joint in the elbow
  • Three joints in the wrist
Joint rotation Elbow rotation limited to 160 degrees.

Each of Canadarm2's joints rotate 270 degrees in each direction, a total of 540 degrees.

This range of motion is greater than that of a human arm.

Senses No sense of touch.
  • Force-moment sensors provide a sense of "touch."
  • Automatic collision avoidance.
Length 15 m 17 m
Mass 410 kg 1,497 kg
Diameter 33 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom) 35 cm (exterior diameter of composite boom)
Speed of operation
  • Unloaded: 60 cm/s
  • Loaded: 6 cm/s
  • Unloaded: 37 cm/s
  • Loaded:
    • 2 cm/s (during ground control)
    • 15 cm/s (support during spacewalks)
Composition 16 layers of high-modulus carbon fibre epoxy 19 layers of high-strength carbon fibre thermoplastic
Repairs Repaired on Earth. Designed to be repaired in space. Composed of removable sections that can be individually replaced in space.
Control Controlled by astronauts on the Space Shuttle. Controlled from the ground or by astronauts on the International Space Station.

Two cameras:

  • One on the elbow
  • One on the wrist

Four colour cameras:

  • One on each side of the elbow
  • The other two on the "hands"

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