The Nuts and Bolts of Canadarm2

Technical Name : Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS)

Launch Day : April 19, 2001 – Canadarm2 is launched aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. Three days later it will be connected to the International Space Station (ISS) by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Mission : Assemble and maintain the (ISS), catch unpiloted cargo ships and assist with maintenance operations.

Location : 70 kilometres above the Earth. More specifically, along the spine of the ISS and the US segment.

Distance travelled : 2.4 billion km in 10 years! That's over one-and-a-half times the distance of the Sun to Saturn.

Property of : Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

Built by : MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), in Brampton, Ontario

Mass : 1,641 kg

Length : 17 metres

Composition : 19 layers of high-strength carbon fibre-thermoplastic

Degrees of Freedom : 7 degrees of freedom. Much like a human arm: shoulder (3 joints), elbow (1 joint), wrist (3 joints). However, Canadarm2 can change configuration without moving its hands.

Accomplishments : Assembled the ISS while in space, including major components like the Quest airlock, the Columbus laboratory and the Kibo module, to name a few. Canadarm2 is the centrepiece of Canada's key contribution to the Space Station, ensuring Canadian scientists have access to the resources of this orbital science lab.

The Future : Will continue with external maintenance tasks on the Space Station – this includes assisting spacewalking astronauts. Will also grapple and dock unpiloted cargo ships such as the Japanese HTV, and future US commercial transport vehicles like SpaceX's Dragon and Orbital's Cygnus.

Trivia : It is commemorated (along with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield) on a 2006 coin created by the Royal Canadian Mint that is available in both gold and silver. It also appears in a 2011 stamp from Canada Post that features the first Canadian handshake in space. In 2013, Canadarm2 and Dextre will adorn the new $5 polymer bill, showcasing Canada's achievements in space exploration.